A housing block burns in Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 22 Feb 2024. The cause of the fire is unknown. Credit: AP Photo/Alberto Saiz

At least four people are dead and over fourteen people missing after a huge fire ravaged apartment blocks in the Spanish city of Valencia.

Over 20 fire crews confronted the blaze, which engulfed a 14-storey residential block and spread to a smaller neighbouring building. Thirteen people suffered injuries including burns and smoke inhalation.

According to officials, residents fled from the fire onto balconies, where some were rescued by firefighters. Soldiers and medics were also deployed from Spain’s military emergency unit, the UME.

The building was previously inspected by Esther Puchades, vice president of the College of Industrial Technical Engineers of Valencia.

Speaking to Spanish news agency EFE, Puchades said “the reason the [building] burned so fast is because of this type of cladding.”

The exterior of the apartments was clad in a polyurethane material which, while effective for insulation, is highly flammable. This is caused by a gap in the cladding and the building’s covering which causes a chimney effect that makes the fire spread more quickly.

Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s Prime Minister said he was “shocked by the terrible fire”, promising “all the help that is necessary” to Valencia.

City authorities announced that there will be a day of mourning for victims of the fire.

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