The man was unable to escape from the fire at his home due to the bars on theentrance to the flat. The barred gate, which restricted access,prevented the rescue of the 70 year old man who was disabled and needed a wheelchair. Three local police officers and six Guardia Civil were taken to hospital with inhalation of smoke during the rescue attempt.

The fire broke out on Saturday 13th May at 2.45 am in a fifth floor apartment in La Tejera building in street Bazán de Torrevieja. When the ambulance arrived it could only confirm the death of the man. Pedro was born in Madrid and had lived alone in the flat for some years according to his neighbours. He suffered from diabetes and had had a leg amputated and for this reason he was forced to use a wheelchair.

Neighbours called the emergency services immediately after hearing the shouts from the man asking for assistance. They could also see the smoke coming out of the house. Neighbours, Guardia Civil, Local Police and health services tried to extinguish the flames using fire extinguishers locatedin the corridors of the building. The victim continued to shout for help from inside but rescuers were unable to reach him.

The problem was that the grill barred entrance to the property and Pedro could not find the keys because of the smoke. Only on the arrival of the fire brigade could entry to the building be forced and the man was already dead in the bathroom with serious burns. Attempts were made to resuscitate him once the services were able to enter. The wheel chair that he used could also be seen, destroyed by the fire.

Attempts were first made to access the fifth floor from the balcony on calleTomillo and ladders were brought on a truck to enable this. However, the flames were too high and smoke prevented the rescue services gaining entry from this direction.

The fire totally destroyed the interior of the property. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated and the fire brigade did not leave the flat until after 5am, once all the flames had completely been extinguished. This is isn’t the first time that a fatal fire has occurred in this building that includes 150 homes.

Suzanne O’Connell