THREE young local ‘heroes’ are being praised by residents after their swift action may have saved their lives. A fire which broke out at a Torremolinos apartment injured its three occupants, but dozens escaped unhurt after the heroes risked their lives to help evacuate the building.
The three men, Fouad, Mohammad and Antonio, were returning from a night out in the early hours of Wednesday morning when they spotted flames and smoke billowing out of a 5th floor apartment of the six storey building. One of the three men was Ceuta-born Fouad Mustafa Hamad, 27, who works as a pastry chef at a local cafeteria in Torremolinos.
“I live in the block of apartments across the road and my friends were dropping me off, we had been out for drinks. As I got out and said goodbye I heard someone shouting out ‘fire’ from above,” he told EWN. “Looking up I could see flames coming out of the building, and a lady in a neighbouring apartment was shouting down to me. “While Antonio parked the car, Mohammad and I ran to the entrance of the building and climbed over the gate and rushed up the stairs”.
When they arrived at the fifth floor he says an elderly woman partially opened the door, “she had a towel on her head – and smoke poured out of the apartment, she cried out ‘my daughter my daughter!’” he said. “We tried to go into the apartment with our shirts covering our mouths but there was too much smoke so we banged on all the doors to wake everybody up and get them out of the building.”
Fouad’s girlfriend Susana Tellez, 23, saw Fuad sprinting down the road and jump over the wall, “I shouted down to him, but he just carried on. I could see across and there was a lady in one of the buildings half out of the window, she looked so scared and I thought she might jump out.”
One of the neighbours on the fifth floor was Manuel Ruiz, 47. He works as a civil servant at the town hall with his wife Maria de los Angeles, her parents and their son. “We were awakened at about 3.30am by banging on our door and two young men outside telling us there was a fire and we needed to get out of the building,” Manuel said.
“If it had not been for those young men, we could have died from smoke affixation. They probably saved our lives. They are heroes.”
“I called 112 and stayed until the fire-fighters got there. They are my friends I wanted to make sure they were ok. I made sure my family got out of the building. It took the firefighters about four minutes to get the mother and her children out,” he said.
His wife, Maria de los Angeles said “The walls in my apartment, especially the hallway are blackened with smoke, so I will have to clean and paint it all, but at least we are alive and not seriously hurt.” Meanwhile, Manuel Melo, 52, who lives in the adjacent block hall says he was watching TV when he heard shouting from outside.
“I thought people were fighting, but then realized that the building next door was on fire,” he said. “I had to leave my apartment because the smoke reached as far down as my apartment. I went outside and the place was filled with fire-fighters and police and people being evacuated.”
The three occupants of the apartment where the blaze started – a 69-year-old woman, her daughter, 45, and son, 36 – were admitted to hospital. The cause of the fire is being investigated. Residents were allowed to return to their homes two hours later at around 5.30am.
By Nicole Hallett
Photo credit: James Euesden