At least six dead and 15 injured in a fire at a care home in Valencia
Fire possibly caused by a short circuit in an oxygen machine
ValenciaA deadly fire broke out last night in a care home for the elderly in the Valencian town of Moncada (L'Horta). It has left a balance of six deaths, aged between 67 and 95, and 15 people injured of varying degrees after the flames destroyed an entire wing of the nursing home.
The fire, which has forced to evict a total of 70 inmates, began yesterday shortly after eleven o'clock at night in a room on the second floor in which there were two elderly residents, both of whom died, as explained by the inspector in chief of Valencia's Consortium of Firefighters, José Miguel Basset. Basset noted that when they arrived at the care home, after receiving notice of the fire at around 23.30 h, they found "lots of people calling for help and trapped by smoke, especially on the top floor." Basset explained that the fire was "fully developed" and that they proceeded to rescue "many people, about 20 or 25, from the rooms of the affected wing and the upper floor".
The tasks to get the inmates out were difficult because many residents were sleeping when the fire started and, although some had woken up due to smoke, "most were in bed without being able to move," as the head of the fire station of La Pobla de Farnals, Rafael Esteve, explained. Esteve stressed that it was a "complicated" task and some residents had to be taken out with their beds. Esteve has detailed that "the worst" was the smoke, especially in the hallway where the fire started, but thanks to the fact that there were "many means" and that the Local Police officers and the Guardia Civil "helped a lot" the evacuation was done "quite fast".
The chief inspector of the Consortium of Firefighters of Valencia specified that once the fire was extinguished they found two people dead in the damaged room and that the others lost their lives due to "smoke inhalation or other circumstances". Among the injured there are still at least two seriously injured, one critically injured and another with a reserved prognosis, while the rest remain stable. The emergency services have transferred them to different hospitals in the area such as Hospital Doctor Peset, Arnau de Vilanova, Hospital Clínico and Hospital de Manises. As a result of the fire extinguishing works, seven policemen, three members of Civil Protection and an agent of the Guardia Civil also required medical attention.
As for the origin of the fire, the president of Valencia's Generalitat, Ximo Puig, who moved to the nursing home this Wednesday, stated that the cause could be a short circuit in an oxygen machine. "Everything seems to indicate that it could be a short circuit in some kind of oxygen machine. It is what is being talked about in principle, but it has to be confirmed by the Guardia Civil," he added.
Puig explained that the tasks of rescuing the residents have been complicated, because they are people with major mobility problems, and has highlighted the work of the police, firefighters and Town Council and care home staff, "who have been working so that they could save as many lives as possible."
The Valencian president has emphasised that, at this time, the "main thing" is that all the injured can recover, as well as the families who have lost a loved one be comforted. Puig has conveyed his condolences, said it has been a "very sad" night and asked to think of those who are still suffering: "Our first thought [is with] the families who have lost a loved one and also [with] those affected who are in the hospital," he concluded.
The Department of Equality and Inclusive Policies of the Generalitat Valenciana has reported that throughout this Wednesday it will transfer 12 elderly people from the Moncada care home to other nursing homes. On the other hand, Moncada Town Council has decreed three days of official mourning to pay tribute to the victims of the fire. During this time the flags of the consistory will fly at half mast.
Second fire at Montcada care home
Tuesday's fire is not the first time that a fire has broken out at this care home. In April 2008 a woman who ended up committing suicide started a fire. The event also left seven more people hospitalised due to smoke intoxication. On that occasion, the fire forced the eviction of fifty people from the nursing home. The fact that the fire occurred at night also made it difficult to rescue the residents, who were resting in their rooms.