Madrid firefighters were forced on several occasions to stop employees of the company responsible for the maintenance of the M-30 from entering the Madrid ring road’s tunnels, during efforts to put out a fire in a ventilation shaft that eventually cost the lives of two people on October 26.
According to evidence given on Tuesday by the Madrid environment, safety and mobility chief, Antonio de Guindos, firefighters had to “repeatedly” tell personnel from the Emesa maintenance company to keep away from the fire, given that they were not wearing the required protective gear.
The authorities were alerted to the blaze by a member of the public, who thought that a trash can located above the vent was on fire. This particular area of the M-30 tunnel is the location of three prior incidents involving the electrical system earlier this year, causing huge traffic jams on the ring road.
According to De Guindos, as part of maintenance work to correct these problems, tanks of nitrogen used by the firefighting systems were disconnected, while the auxiliary batteries of the same system caught fire, preventing the alarm from sounding.
After several hours battling the blaze, the bodies of two workers from Emesa were discovered in an area where the nitrogen tanks were located. The employees were, according to De Guindos, “two highly trained professionals.”
Socialist councilor Ruth Porta said Tuesday that what happened during the incident was “incredibly serious,” given that “nothing worked.”