One dead, 18 injured in blaze at old people’s home in southern Spain

An 89-year-old woman died and another 18 pensioners were hospitalised, some with severe burns, after a fire ripped through an elderly care residence in Seville, rescuers said on Wednesday.

One dead, 18 injured in blaze at old people's home in southern Spain
Image: Pxfuel

The blaze began late on Tuesday January 5th at the care home in the southern city of Seville in Andalusia, with some 170 police, medics and rescuers involved in the operation in which another 78 residents had to be rehoused, the emergency services said in a statement.

“An 89-year-old woman died as a result of the fire… and 18 people were taken to different hospitals in the city”, they said. Of those, five were in serious condition after being badly burnt.

Firefighters believe the fire may have begun on the second floor with the smoke pouring into the floor above, which “complicated efforts to put out the blaze and to rescue those inside,” they said.

More than 80 local and national police were at the scene, working to try and evacuate residents via the emergency staircases in almost freezing temperatures.

“The transfer required an extra effort to try and keep the residents warm with blankets and take them out, one-by-one, in wheelchairs,” they said, highlighting the frailty of the evacuees and the low temperatures.

The residents were then taken in nine buses to a local sports centre where they were checked by medics before being relocated to two other residences, while some went home with family members.

Seville mayor Juan Espadas said the toll could have been a lot worse. “It could have been even more tragic considering the size of the residence, the fact most people were asleep and that visibility was practically non-existent because of the smoke,” he told Spain's RNE public radio hailing the rescue efforts.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire but officials cited in the local press said the fact that it was discovered quickly was key to rescue efforts.

Experts were expected to enter the building on Thursday to try and determine the cause of the fire.

The four-storey residence is a private assisted-living facility run by a company called DomusVi.

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Barcelona fire kills four, including two children

A fire ripped through an abandoned bank occupied by squatters in central Barcelona on Tuesday, killing four people, including a baby and a three year-old boy, Spanish firefighters said.

Police and firefighters gather outside an abandoned building where a blaze broke out early on November 30, 2021 in Barcelona, killing four people.
Police and firefighters gather outside an abandoned building where a blaze broke out early on November 30, 2021 in Barcelona, killing four people. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

“While we were battling the fire, we found four people. Emergency services tried to revive them but unfortunately they failed, they could not do anything to save them,” the head of the firefighting operation, Ángel López, told reporters.

Firefighters rescued four other people who were inside the building while putting out the blaze, he added.

Those four were treated for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters rushed to the scene at around 6 am after being warned that a blaze had broken out in the building, Mr Lopez said.

While Mr López said it was not clear how the four dead people were related, Barcelona-based daily newspaper La Vanguardia said they were all members of a Romanian family.

A spokesman for Catalonia’s regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, said an investigation had been opened into the causes of the fire.

In December 2020, four people were killed after a blaze ripped through an industrial complex occupied by squatters, many of them African migrants, near Barcelona.

Over 100 squatters were believed to be living in precarious conditions at the abandoned complex in Badalona, a suburban town north of the city.

In addition to the four deaths, more than 20 people were injured in the blaze.