EXCLUSIVE: Authorities warned of Costa del Sol fire threat ‘five years ago’

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EWN Media Group
FIRE FAILINGS: Residents say the blaze was ‘not a surprise.’

VICTIMS of a Costa del Sol fire which saw 14 people injured say the dramatic incident could have been avoided.

And the furious homeowners are demanding answers from the privately-owned  building’s managers and Junta de Andalucia regional government.

Speaking exclusively with the Euro Weekly News, Alice Gaans from Belgium, who owns a holiday flat, said: “My husband is in hospital so I wasn’t here, but we’ve had no information about how to proceed.

“Our front door is destroyed and the worst thing is that we have been warning about this for the last five years.

“We don’t even know who is to blame for this.”

Alice was speaking from inside the partially-gutted building, since we were permitted to walk in unopposed despite clear dangers, with wires hanging from walls and collapsed ceilings, and no light in the windowless corridors.

Other residents were seen during the visit, many elderly, and some only had the light of their mobile phones to see by, while a group of Dutch holidaymakers congregated outside and were surprised to see us emerge.

“Are we allowed in?” asked one lady. “We’ve had to pay for a hotel to sleep in but we haven’t really been told anything.”

It comes after the blaze ripped through a block of flats in central Fuengirola, forcing the evacuation of 50 residents and leaving the building without electricity.

But those affected say that the room where the flames broke out, which houses the community’s rubbish bins and electricity meter, has been unsafe for years.

They commissioned an independent expert to produce a report in the wake of a smaller fire almost two years ago, and according to local media the study concluded that the room “does not meet the necessary safety conditions.”

The June 2016 document goes on to warn that the space should be shut down “until the existing deficiencies have been remedied,” before recommending that “a state assessment should be carried out by the relevant authorities.”

After reading the report, concerned residents sent a letter to the Junta, with the regional authority reportedly referencing a town council plan to carry out improvements in its reply.

In 2017, the community was informed that the maintenance had been completed, but that electricity firm Endesa had not moved the meter because there was nowhere else to put it.

The Junta then advised that it was Endesa’s responsibility to find a new space, and notified the council about the issue.

Since then, nothing has happened, the residents claim, and ‘now the worst has happened.’

But Anna reckons they first raised the issue in 2013.

“2016? We’ve been warning about this for five years!” she said. “It’s terrible, just terrible.”

The quick response of emergency services has been praised since the dramatic incident, with only one women who slipped while trying to get out of the building through a first floor window hospitalised.

But the telephone number provided online for the apartments connects to a hotel that has no connection to the building and we have thus far been unable to track down the building’s parent company.  

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GUTTED: Alice’s front door and hallway ©EWN Media Group

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