At least two die in fire of an industrial building where more than a hundred people lived in Badalona

Firefighters have controlled the fire and are now analyzing the state of the building

Cesc Maideu
4 min
L’ampli desplegament dels Bombers ahir a Badalona.

BadalonaFirefighters have already recovered the lifeless bodies of two people when extinguishing the fire that has been burning since yesterday evening in an industrial building in Badalona, which continues burning. The building's risk of collapse makes access to the inside of the warehouse difficult. Around thirty people continue working in the area and have already been able to rescue around thirty people, who have left the premises through the facades of the building. According to the latest report, there are also two critically injured people, four seriously injured, and 11 slightly injured. The fire is under control but the firefighters have found four partial collapses of the structure when they tried to access the inside of the building. It is not yet known how so many people were in the building at the time of the fire. According to some of the people who lived in it, there could be between 120 and 150 occupants and the mayor of Badalona, Xavier Garcia Albiol, assured that it could be up to 200. The firefighters discard finding more people alive, and are now analyzing the best way to get into the inside of the building avoiding the risk of collapse. The warehouse may have to be demolished.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Miquel Sàmper, explained this morning from the scene that there have been four "partial collapses" of the building shortly after the fire brigade arrived, and that they are now waiting to see if, once the fire is stable, they can gain access to the warehouse. When there is more natural light, they will analyze the situation peripheraly in order to decide whether they can attack the fire from inside the building or continue working from the outside.

The Minister also said that once the firefighters know what to do, there will be a second investigation by the scientific police of the Mossos d'Esquadra (the Catalan police) to try to define the causes of the fire. For the moment, he said, there are no hypotheses. In fact, the Minister regretted that they are working "almost blindly" because the people who have been rescued are not giving information or taking an interest in possible relatives or acquaintances who are affected by the fire. The Minister has attributed this to the "language barrier": "There has been no collaboration from the victims". Sàmper pointed out that the building might have to be mechanically demolished. "The most important thing is to know the state of the building for the safety of the residents", he said.

The fire was declared on Wednesday shortly before nine o'clock in the evening at the crossroads of Guifré Street and Tortosa Street in Badalona. The flames are concentrated mainly on the top floor of a four-storey building. The building was abandoned but had been squatted for at least eight years by dozens of people, most of them of sub-Saharan origin and in a situation of maximum vulnerability.

The mayor of Badalona, Xavier Garcia Albiol, has assured this morning that the number of squatters cannot be known exactly, but that there could be more than 100, and even 200. He has said that 10 or 15 minutes before receiving the warning of the fire, action was being taken in the surroundings of the warehouse, motivated by problems of coexistence that he has attributed to some of the occupants. The mayor has considered this relevant. He said that in the last two years there were "conflictive people in the building who created significant problems of coexistence". The council had about sixty people registered in this building and, according to Albiol, 15 are now in a shelter. The mayor has assured that they are aware of who owns the building and that the situation does not surprise them, as they have been working on it for months.

A candle

Moisés, who was one of the first to see the fire start, was lucky enough to be downstairs when the fire broke out. "A candle fell on the floor, and since it was all cardboard and wood, it lit up very quickly", he explained. He also remembered that they had tried to put it out but that in the whole building there were only two fire extinguishers and one was not working. Moisés, 52 years old and born in Morocco, had been living in this building for 4 years and was the first one to call the firemen to alert them. He explained that the fire started on the ground floor and that many people upstairs could not get down. "I don't know what happened to them, I saw people jumping", he said.

The Health Minister, Alba Vergés, who went to the scene last night, explained that there are two people in critical state. There are four serious injuries and 11 of a minor nature attended to by the Emergency Medical Services. The most seriously injured were taken to the Vall d'Hebron, Germans Trias i Pujol and del Mar hospitals.

The Home Affairs Minister Miquel Sàmper, who also went to Badalona, noted that the fire was so serious that it left the building in "clear risk of collapse": "It could fall at any moment". He stressed that the priority now is to put out the flames - there are 28 fire brigades from the Generalitat and 5 from Barcelona - and later an investigation will have to be opened to see if the cause of the fire has been natural, or provoked.

The Emergency Services have activated around fifteen units and set up a mobile health area to attend people who have minor injuries. The Mossos d'Esquadra recommend not getting close to the area for safety reasons.

Moisès was accompanied by Keita, who was born in Senegal and also survived the fire. He had been living in the building for six years, and said that between 120 and 150 people currently live there. "The people who live here change over time, sometimes we were even 200 people", he says. He also confirms that some of them were minors: the youngest are between 14 and 15 years old, and are still in school.