Months before neighbours can return home after Eixample fire
The woman who ran the bar that exploded is still in hospital and has not made a statement
Barcelona"It's all destroyed, it's a great pity". Iliana Garcimarrero lives in the building most affected by the fire which broke out yesterday in Barcelona's Eixample. This morning, accompanied by firefighters, she was able to return home to collect a few belongings. "Above all what we need most: ID, credit cards and computers to work with. We left with nothing, running away from the fire," she says. She has also found that some of the memories she could not take with her remained intact: photographs of her daughters, the books her father wrote.... Everything that was made of wood, however, is gone.
If the bad news today is that the repair work on this block, at number 73 of València street, is expected to take a long time and the neighbours will not be able to return for months, the good news is that everything points to the fact that the building will not have to be demolished. Firefighters, who have already shored up the load-bearing wall that was affected, see no risk of collapse, but ask for "caution".
This morning only the neighbours in the apartment just above Bar Champi, which is where the explosion originated, have been unable to enter to collect their things. This apartment took the brunt of the first explosion and has been left with no floor. Fortunately, yesterday the tenants were not at home. However, they do not know whether anything could be saved.
Of the four people who were injured, three have already been discharged and only the person responsible for the bar where the explosion originated, who is still in police custody but has not yet made a statement, remains in Vall d'Hebron hospital. According to the first deputy mayor of the city, Albert Batlle, the woman is safe and her statement will be key to determine whether, as everything seems to indicate, it is a case of arson. But police officials are refusing to speculate for the time being.
The neighbours agreed yesterday to point to the woman who ran the bar as responsible for the explosion, remarking that she had already threatened on occasion to burn it down despite the fact that her behaviour had led them to file a complaint with the Guardia Urbana on April 1. The police, in fact, had agreed to the preventive sealing of the premises, but when they showed up, last Friday, they found it was already closed.
Batlle has explained today that what was detected, rather than a security risk – he insists that nothing foresaw an outcome like the one that occurred – was that the bar did not comply with basic health measures. The scientific police is still investigating the causes of the explosion that caused violent fireballs that ended up affecting eight buildings in the block of houses between València, Avenida de Roma, Calàbria and Rocafort.
The worst off were the residents of the same block as the bar (València, 73), most of whom took refuge from the fire on the roof. The younger then jumped onto the neighbouring block while other, like Modest Ramírez, waited on their balcony to be rescued by the fire service. From this building, 16 people were evacuated, and it is expected to be months before they can return home. Only two have required accommodation at Barcelona's Centre for Social Emergencies, and the rest will spend the days at the homes of family and friends.
There are also two apartments which were badly affected in the block behind, at Avinguda de Roma, 90, because the fire went up the gallery due to a chimney effect, carried by the air currents that went in through the bar's front and out onto the courtyard. In this case, there are six neighbours who have not yet been able to return home, but it is expected that they will be able to return before those on València street.
The effect on this property is "very serious" according to Batlle, who added that the forecast is that the apartments "will not be accessible for a while". The next step, once the structure has been secured, will be the coordination with insurance companies to plan rehabilitation works