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Cladding the focus of Valencia tower block fire investigation


A lack of firewalls and the use of polyurethane on the facade have been pinpointed as potential reasons for the rapid spread of the Valencia apartment block blaze which killed nine people in Spain’s third largest city.

That was the verdict of Esther Puchades, a representative of insurance inspection agency APCAS, whose comment to RTVE drew parallels with the Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017.

Construction pictures suggest the cladding used on the building may be of a type now banned in the UK. The manufacturer Alucoil says it cannot confirm if its product was used.

The association for the polyurethane industry said in a statement no polyurethane was used in the building’s cladding.

An investigation into the fire, which started in an empty eighth-floor flat, is ongoing but it has already been linked to a probable electrical fault.

Local media reported that a 2007 promotional video by the building’s developers did not mention polyurethane and highlighted the “innovative aluminium material” used to clad the building’s exterior, which passed “rigorous quality checks”.

The Grenfell Tower block fire in west London killed 71 people and its intensity was blamed on the use of highly flammable external cladding.

The Valencia blaze was fanned by strong winds and engulfed the block in the El Campanar district within half an hour, witnesses said. Two firefighters suffered serious injuries and were hospitalised.

Emergency services said the fire began on the fourth floor of one of the towers but gave no cause. A local magistrate has opened an investigation into the blaze.

The building, comprising two towers linked by what its developers described as a “panoramic lift”, was completed in 2008 and had 138 apartments, newspaper El Pais reported.

Residents of another block of flats in Valencia by the same developers expressed concern over the materials used on their own building and urged authorities to investigate.

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