All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Valencia Apartment-block Fire
Friday, March 1, 2024 @ 12:11 PM

 Last week’s main story was the tragic fire that burned two connected 14- and 10-storey blocks of flats in Valencia on Thursday February 22nd in just a couple of hours. 138 apartments were gutted. That it happened during the day meant that only ten people were killed. Another 500 or so (the estimate of the total inhabitants in the two blocks) are reported safe.

The fire started on the seventh floor following a spark from a short-circuit inside an electric window-awning.

The façade of the building – which began construction in 2006 – was covered by an innovative material called Alucobond, an aluminium composite that includes synthetic material.

The manufacturer’s website insists on its product: ‘High-quality, resilient and unique in appearance – Alucobond® stands for sustainable construction quality and the highest creative standards. The façade material is distinguished by its outstanding product attributes such as precise flatness, variety of surfaces and colours as well as excellent formability’.

The suggestion is that the inner core was highly flammable. The cladding ‘was made from polyurethane, Says The Local, which is a versatile plastic material, which exists in various forms. It is used in everything from shoe soles to sportswear fabrics and mattresses. It’s also often found in building construction, particularly for cladding and insulation. The material is highly flammable, and "when heated, it catches fire" said a fireman. The fact-checking site Maldita expressed caution over the claim, saying that the cladding was more likely to be a rock-wool composite. 

A friend who lives close-by sent me the photograph he took the next morning. 

We are reminded of the Grenfell tragedy in North Kensington, London, which burnt down in June 2017 with 70 deaths. The fire ‘was accelerated by a dangerously combustible aluminium composite cladding and external insulation, with an air gap between them enabling the stack effect’. 

Back in 2008, when the buildings were completed, similar to the entire real-estate sector in Spain, the developer behind the project and an even larger sister block nearby, a firm called Fbex, went into crisis. Two years later it filed for bankruptcy for 640 million euros and the entity passed into the control of its lending bank Banesto.

Many of the owners (or perhaps mortgage holders) were left with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing. The city hall of Valencia has given shelter to those affected. Mapfre insurance nevertheless has an obligation for 26.5 million euros on the buildings.

There are an untold number of high-rise buildings in Spain using a similar kind of cladding with polyurethane built before the regulations were changed in 2006. How would the owners (or, again, the mortgage-paying tenants) feel to discover that their building is potentially a fire-hazard? The tenants in the second Fbex project, in nearby Mislata (162 apartments) are understandably very concerned.

Like 1


Only registered users can comment on this blog post. Please Sign In or Register now.


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x