20 Feb, 2024 @ 13:29
1 min read

Senior home in Spain’s Madrid where three women died in fire had emergency exits blocked, no water pressure in fire hydrant and a faulty alarm system

THE part-public senior home in Spain’s Madrid region where three women died after a fire broke out there on Sunday suffered a litany of deficiencies and irregularities that could have contributed to the tragedy. That’s according to the preliminary police report about the incident, and to which Spanish media outlets have had access.

Two residents at the Juan XXIII residence in the Aravaca neighbourhood in central Madrid aged 90 and 93 died during the fire on Sunday morning, while a third aged 65 passed away on Monday in hospital, where she was being treated for her injuries. 

The home, which is partly funded by the Madrid regional government, had passed two inspections in 2023. 

But despite this, the police report, as seen by radio station Cadena SER, details a series of issues in the centre. 

The fire hydrant on the first floor, where the fire broke out, was not working. “When activated, the hose lost all pressure after a few seconds and stopped expelling water,” the report reads. 

When officers tried to turn it back on, the pressure metre was showing zero. 

What’s more, emergency exits on the first and second floors were completely blocked.

Police also noted that there were no emergency lights in the centre and that the fire alarm did not flash nor sound, making the evacuation process much more complicated. 

The central government’s spokesperson, Pilar Alegria of the Socialist Party, has called on the Partido Popular (PP) regional leader of Madrid, Isabel Diaz-Ayuso, to put into action a full investigation into the fire and the deaths. 

In Madrid City Hall, meanwhile, leftist party Mas Madrid has also called on the PP-led administration to share ‘all of the official reports and files that the Municipal Police and the firefighters have’ about the home and the tragedy. 

The early hypothesis of investigators is that the fire was started by a faulty charger, which set light to a mattress in the home. 

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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