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An entire family lost their lives in the devastating fire that incinerated a residential complex in the Campanar neighbourhood of València on Thursday. Marta and Ramón, with their two small children, Víctor, three years old, and Carla, only two weeks old, took refuge in the toilet of their apartment in line with the instructions given by the fire service during the first moments of the fire, when the gravity of the situation was not known, and in particular, the experts did not foresee that the flames would end up rapidly devouring both tower blocks in the development.

The four bodies were among the first to be detected by a firefighter drone on Thursday night, hours after a fire began in one of the 138 homes making up the complex, all of which are now completely destroyed. The police still do not have a clear hypothesis about what caused the fire, but the strong wind and the material from which the buildings were constructed contributed to the rapid spread of the flames, turning the apartments into a death trap from which, tragically, ten people were unable to escape. Among them, the young couple and their children, found hugging one another in the toilet, killed by the toxic smoke they inhaled.

They were able to say goodbye over the phone

When the fire started, Marta and Ramón, like most of the residents, tried to leave the building by going down the stairs. At the time, however, no one could foresee the terrible spread of the flames, and the firefighters trying to contain and smother the fire advised them to stay inside their flat with wet towels covering the space below doors to prevent smoke from entering. The couple decided to heed the advice: with a newborn baby and Marta still convalescing after a difficult birth, it seemed safer for them to take refuge in the flat than run down the stairs, where they could also find themselves confronting the flames.

A friend of the couple was talking to them on the phone at the time they turned back for home. As she explained to the Información newspaper, at 5:49pm, just fifteen minutes after the fire was declared, the woman received a message on WhatsApp: "They aren't letting us out." "If a person who understands fires tells you to stay inside, you do what they tell you, thinking that this will save you, but it didn't," she said, devastated. There were many residents who ignored the fire team's orders and hurried downstairs, miraculously saving their lives.

Ramón was a building engineer and he quickly understood the dire situation they were in and tried to open one of the windows to get out onto the balcony, as did another couple who, for more than two hours, stayed on their terrace, surrounded by fire, until firemen were able to rescue them safe and sound. Unfortunately, this was not possible for Marta, Ramón and little Víctor and Carla; the flames were so intense that they were trapped inside the toilet where they had taken refuge. In these last moments, they decided to call the family, aware that in a few minutes the fire would end their lives.

Despite the smoke that suffocated them, Ramón was able to explain the situation to his father, and Marta was able to say goodbye to her mother. They stayed on the phone with them until the signal was lost, and it was no longer possible to make contact again. Hours later, the firefighters removed the four bodies from the remains of the flat, completely charred; genetic samples were able to confirm their identities, and their family, friends and neighbours received the devastating news of their death.

The causes, under investigation

A València invesitgative court has taken charge of the case and has decreed confidentiality of proceedings. The investigation is focused on clarifying what caused this terrible fire that in just half an hour burned two blocks of flats and caused the death of ten people; the flames swept across the facades at high speed, fanned by the strong winds and, it seems, the cladding of the buildings, built in 2008, although this aspect remains to be clarified.