Four people have died in a fire that broke out at 6.30am on Tuesday inside an abandoned bank branch in Barcelona, the Catalan police reported. The victims include two young children aged one and three, said sources familiar with the investigation.
The premises, located on Tetuán square in the central district of L’Eixample, were occupied by squatters. Four other people were able to escape by accessing the building’s inner courtyard and made it out of the building with minor injuries, according to the Mossos d’Esquadra police force.
Fire crews pulled out the bodies of the four victims after partially putting out the fire at a former branch of Evobank at number 20 on Tetuán square. The rest of the building was not affected by the flames, according to the firefighting service.
The incident caused significant traffic disruptions in the city center, where parts of the avenues Gran Vía and Passeig Sant Joan were temporarily cut off. The building is located near several schools and around 100 meters from the headquarters of the Catalan government’s department of interior affairs.
This is the latest in a series of similar incidents to have taken place in recent years in the Barcelona metropolitan area, involving occupied business premises and apartments illegally hooked up to the electricity grid. The most serious case took place in Badalona in December 2020, when a warehouse occupied by a group of immigrants caught fire. A year before that, four people living in precarious conditions died in fires inside two apartments in Badalona and La Llagosta.