Two dead in a fire in the basement of a block of flats in Cassà de la Selva

The fire may have been caused by electrical tampering

3 min
The ground floor that was burned because of the fire

BarcelonaTwo people have died in a fire on the ground floor of a block of flats in Cassà de la Selva, according to the Fire Department of the Generalitat. The fire originated at around 8:42 a.m. at number 51, Carrer del Raval, a building with a ground floor plus four floors, and partially affected a house located on the ground floor. Firefighters took ten teams to the site. Squatters lived in the flat where the fire started, ACN reports. The fire has already been put out and the neighbours who were able to leave unaided and have been able to return home. The Emergency Medical System (SEM) has attended four injured. The causes of the fire, which are being investigated, are unknown. The conseller miquel Sàmper, during the press conference this morning to explain new restrictions, has advanced that the flames could have been caused by "electrical manipulation".

Three of the injured have been transferred to the Hospital Santa Caterina de Salt and the fourth person has been discharged on site. The SEM has sent four units and the Catalan police sent three regular units as well as an investigations team. As reported by the territorial head of the emergency region of Girona Fire Department, Miquel València, a warning was received at 8.42 am and a total of ten teams were sent to the scene: "Our task has focused on the search for victims in the affected building and the adjacent and control and extinguishing the fire."

The fire has affected the ground floor of the building and one room of the flat has been completely burnt. Firefighters are checking whether the fire has caused the block structural damage with the aim of restoring "normality", but it seems that the flames have not affected the structure.

According to sources close to the case, the bodies of the deceased have been located in an area near a lightwell. "We are investigating this fire in which, unfortunately, two people have lost their lives. We have started working to find the reasons for the fire and to identify the victims," explained Inspector Xavier Domènech.

Domènech has specified that the bodies of the two people who died were in very bad condition and that they will probably have to resort to DNA to confirm their identity. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the forensic doctor arrived to remove the bodies. "We have already informed the court on duty and we are working together following their guidelines to determine the causes of the fire," added Domènech. The police's investigation unit and the scientific police have begun to inspect the affected apartment to determine where and why the fire originated. "The investigation is open and, for the moment, we do not know how the fire started. According to the City Council, the flat was illegally connected to the electricity supply and the electric company was making arrangements in this regard", said the inspector.

An occupied flat

"What happened today is unfortunate, but it was foreseeable," said the mayor of Cassà de la Selva, Robert Mundet. He has specified that there is "a problem with squatted flats" in the town: "A problem that often ends badly, as unfortunately happened today," he said in statements to ACN. Mundet explained that this block was occupied by squatters, whilst in the adjacent building eight flats have been squatted. According to the mayor, the local police have been following the situation because it has generated complaints and conflicts with the neighbours. The mayor explained that two weeks ago the electricity was cut off in the flat where the fire occurred. "The local police are monitoring both in this block and in the neighbouring one exhaustively. We cut off the electricity and, apparently, they have reconnected fraudulently," said Mundet.

In squatted flats, electricity companies do not provide service because there is no contract. This situation forces the people who occupy the flats "to connect illegally or use candles", according to Maria Campuzano, spokeswoman for the Alliance Against Energy Poverty. To improve these conditions, the Generalitat and the company Endesa signed an agreement on 29 March to install temporary meters for these families, provided they are registered and have a vulnerability report up to date. The aim was precisely to prevent them from having their electricity cut off and avoid accidents like the one in Cassà de la Selva. "Instead of cutting off supplies, what they should have done was to offer them a solution," said Campuzano, who recalled that the Generalitat also has responsibilities because it would have to "disseminate the new protocol to the municipalities".