Valencia Mourns Fire Victims As Fallas Suspended

The city of Valencia has been holding three days of mourning in honour of the 10 victims who died in a fire that ripped through a residential high-rise two days earlier.

The official mourning declared in the city ran from 12:00 p.m on Friday, February 23 through to today Monday, February 26 at midday.

The Valencian govermment statement read: “The city of Valencia are shocked by the tragic fire that occurred in the residential complex located on Avenida Maestro Rodrigo in the neighborhood of Campanar. The City Council of Valencia want to convey their sincerest condolences for the deceased and all their support and solidarity to the relatives, friends, affected, and associates.  During these three days, flags will be flown at half-mast on municipal buildings, the lights of the monuments will remain off, and all planned events for the upcoming Fallas festivals will be suspended during this period.

The mayor of Valencia, María José Catalá, said that ‘there are no words to describe the pain this city feels at this moment, and all Valencians are sharing in this pain with this moment of silence and respect”.

Experts said the building was covered with highly flammable cladding, which could account for the rapid spread of the blaze which gutted the 14-storey high-rise and an adjoining 10-storey block which together housed 138 flats apartments.

The fire broke out around 5:30pm in one of the flats on the middle floors and within 30 minutes the blaze had consumed the entire building, no thanks to high winds of more than 50 kilometres per hour which also complicated firefighting efforts.

The blaze spread like lightning, the flames quickly visible in every window, sending clouds of black smoke high into the air over the western Campanar district, dramatic footage showed.

Neighbours described seeing the rapid evolution of the flames, with residents stuck on balconies and children screaming. Those left homeless from the fire, including many Ukrainian refugees who lived in the large residential complex, were initially given refuge in city hotels but were expected to be moved to other accommodation over the weekend.

The Valencian emergency services confirmed that that ten bodies had been found inside the building.

Experts now starting on the ‘complex’ task of identifying the dead.

Identification of the victims ‘will be complicated because they will need to be identified with DNA tests’, she said, in a nod to the absolute voracity of the fire, indicating it was not possible to say how long that would take.

A further fifteen people were treated for injuries of varying degrees, including a seven-year-old child and seven firefighters, but their lives were not in danger.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the site of the fire on Friday, where he thanked the firefighters and emergency services, saying: ” On behalf of the Government I want to convey our solidarity, affection and empathy to the families of the victims. I want to thank the public servants for their outstanding work, even risking their lives. We are here to help you, to show our commitment and the solidarity of Spanish society as a whole.”


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