May 17, 2022 11:45 am

Tragedy in Moncada: «It smelled of burning, I looked at the door and the corridor was a cloud of smoke»




«It smells of burning, I go to the door of the room and the corridor was all a cloud of smoke. We know there are people in the hospital. We have been scared. It was under my room.” It is the testimony of Carmen, one of the residents of the Moncada senior center who this Tuesday night suffered a fire in which six people have died – three men aged 67, 79 and 85 and three women aged 78, 89 and 95- and another 17 have been injured by burns and poisoning. Of them, ten have had to be hospitalized, three of them in serious condition.

First thing in the morning, Carmen talks on the phone with her son Pedro, calmer for being able to hear his mother’s voice after a frenetic early morning.

The trickle of relatives who approach the door of the center – located in the center of the Valencian town, next to a school – does not stop. From the outside you can see the damage caused by the fire on the first floor on the façade, with the windows still open. The smell of burning has already dissipated in the environment. They know that their loved ones are fine, but they can’t control their nerves. The event that has gotten them out of bed is the straw that breaks the camel’s back of a pandemic that has forced them to reduce contact with their most vulnerable loved ones.

The Judicial Police continues to investigate the causes of the fire, although everything points to an electrical failure. The main hypothesis is that a short circuit in an oxygen machine Twenty minutes past eleven at night. At that time there were 81 people inside the facilities, 70 elderly people and eleven workers. Almost an hour and a half later, at 00:40 hours, it was considered extinct. In between, there were moments of absolute panic.

Bad luck struck with the wing in which the most dependent people live. Immediately, in a matter of ten minutes, around 80 members of the Civil Guard, Local Police and firefighters from different municipalities in the area were mobilized. Everyone agrees that the speed and coordination with which they acted was crucial in avoiding an even greater disaster.

Image of the residence that has suffered a fire in Moncada (Valencia)
Image of the residence that has suffered a fire in Moncada (Valencia) – ROBER SOLSONA

A very complicated evacuation

“We found the entire first floor full of smoke, which was the worst, with a fully developed fire. The evacuation was complicated because they were all people who could not move. In many rooms people had to be taken out in their own beds», says Rafael Esteve, head of the Pobla de Farnals fire station.

In the building, with capacity for one hundred elderly, there are twelve rooms per floor, in which two people usually live in each of them. “The fire was controlled, but the two most affected floors were full of smoke and inaccessible. An assistant from the residence has alerted us that that wing is where all the bedridden are, almost all of them with oxygen. You had to evacuate as it was. time was flying», says Martín Pérez, councilor for Citizen Security and coordinator of Civil Protection of Moncada.

He was one of the first to enter, when the flames were almost out, but there was no vision. The priority was to get a list of all the beds and the names of the residents so that no one was missing. “We made a human chain with a firefighter in front of us at all times. We went taking them room by room and lowering them to the basement -after sitting them in a wheelchair- so that the toilets could do the triage. We took out 38, but we were missing two», says Perez.

Image of the residence that has suffered a fire in Moncada (Valencia)
Image of the residence that has suffered a fire in Moncada (Valencia) – ROBER SOLSONA

All of them were conscious, but the SAMU team had to intubate two at the time and three had acute respiratory failure that prevented them from getting ahead. Another woman later died in hospital. When the fans could be activated to disperse the smoke, the firefighters entered the room where the fire had started, where they found two other lifeless bodies.

“The inmates were disoriented. Some were unconscious. Those who did not, shouted, “recalls the mayor. Seven police officers, three members of Civil Protection and a civil guard have had to be treated as a result of the incident «Together we have demonstrated the essence of being human. The agents, who prioritized the safety of the residents over their own, are recovering, ”says Jesús María Sánchez, spokesman for the Comandancia de la Meritorious in Valencia.

three days of mourning

“Last night we started hearing the sirens. We looked out the window and ambulances and police were passing… From my house I can see the affected part of the residence. We called, but obviously they didn’t pick up. My mother went over to see if she saw my grandmother leave, but the Civil Guard told her to go home. In networks you see information. He’s been up all night listening to the radio. By not notifying us, we understood that everything was fine. It seems that they have only transferred those from the wing of the residence that was affected, ”says Ana, the granddaughter of one of the residents.

“It is a residence that they are very aware of them, whatever they call us, but now this misfortune has passed. We are almost all from here in the town. My mother has dementia and knows practically no one, not even us. That makes you get even worse, “says the daughter of another of the elderly women who lives in the center, still anguished.

Image of the minute of silence this Wednesday in Moncada (Valencia) after the fire in a residence
Image of the minute of silence this Wednesday in Moncada (Valencia) after the fire in a residence – ROBER SOLSONA

In Moncada, a town of about 22,000 inhabitants located twelve kilometers from Valencia, they are still shocked by what happened. The City Council has decreed three days of official mourning -so has the Generalitat- and the neighbors have joined in a minute of silence.

It is “a terrible day” to accompany the families of the victims, underlined the Vice President and Minister for Equality and Inclusive Policies, Mónica Oltra, who thanked the emergency teams for their speed and efficiency. Likewise, he has valued the work of the staff of his department, who have worked from the first hour to “seek maximum normality in such a complicated moment.” Oltra explained that, despite the offer of other centers, they have opted for transfer twelve older people to residences in the area so that they are not far from their loved ones.

Similarly, the mayor of the municipality, Amparo Orts, has indicated that it is “the saddest night and day in the history of Moncada”, while confirming that none of the deceased was registered in the town.

It so happens that the same center, dependent on the Generalitat and managed by a private company, already suffered a fire in 2008, when an 87-year-old resident lit a mattress with a lighter and subsequently took her own life. The accident, also at dawn, resulted in seven injuries and fifty evacuees, since the smoke also invaded the facilities.

See them

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.