The scene of the fatal blaze. / PHOTO: EFE / VIDEO: ATLAS

Three dead after suspected arson attack on building occupied by squatters

The blaze started in two different areas and authorities say there was a history of problems between the building’s occupants and local residents

CRISTIAN REINO Barcelona

Three people have died this Wednesday morning, 4 May, in a fire in a three-storey building in Santa Coloma de Gramanet, near Barcelona.

As a result of the incident, seven other people have been injured of a varying severity. One of them is in a critical condition in the burns unit of the Valle de Hebrón hospital in Barcelona.

The first hypotheses point to an arson attack. The mayor of Santa Coloma herself, Nuria Parlón, has not ruled it out in a media appearance. And preliminary investigations indicate that the fire started simultaneously in two places, which supports the theory that it was intentional. Inspector Eduard Martínez of the Generalitat Fire Brigade, confirmed this Wednesday that the fire, which started at around 4.30am, had two initial sources. The fire spread from the ground floor, and also from the second floor. The blaze was extinguished at around five in the morning.

Complaints

The building consists of three floors. And most of the flats were squatted. The mayor has confirmed that there were previous complaints to the Local Police and the Mossos regional police force for problems.

On the ground floor, the shutters were daubed with graffiti against the occupants of the building with phrases such as "Squatters, sons of bitches." A few days ago there was a fight and noise complaints were regular, especially on one of the floors. Parlón said that a few months ago the squatted flats were regularised by the real estate owner with social rents. One of the floors is boarded up to prevent its occupation.