The fire took only half an hour to spread to the whole building. | Eva Manez


Fbex, the company that developed the apartment building in Valencia devastated by fire on Thursday, was declared bankrupt in May 2010.

At the height of Spain's real-estate boom that preceded the financial crisis, the company had 65 developments under way. The Balearic Islands were attractive for development projects, and Fbex was responsible for certain developments in Son Rapinya (Palma), Inca and one in Ciutadella, Menorca.

While the Fbex involvement in the islands' construction market wasn't great, speculation has naturally arisen as to the nature of these developments in light of events in Valencia.

Two professional bodies on the islands - the colleges of architects and of technical architects - say that the construction system for the Valencia building has hardly ever been used in the Balearics. In fact, according to Joan Cerdà, president of the College of Architects, it has only ever been used for office blocks and not residential buildings. But this doesn't prevent the speculation about the residential developments that Fbex was responsible for as well as about developments by other companies.

Luis Alfonso de León of the College of Technical Architects points out that the Valencia construction was good and was undertaken in accordance with regulations as they were at the time. As to the fire, which he suggests may have been started by an electrical fault, he draws attention to the ventilated facade. "This created a chimney effect, so the fire spread throughout the building." There were winds of 50 to 60 km/h at the time. Joan Cerdà notes that it took only half an hour for the whole building to be affected.

De León adds: "The insulation material could have been rockwool or fibreglass, although there is talk of polyurethane. The truth is that at present these are all assumptions and we have to wait for the investigation." In Valencia, Esther Puchades of the College of Industrial Technical Engineers says that it was polyurethane that accelerated the fire.

The number of deaths has now been put at nine, and investigations in Valencia are under way. A court of instruction has been put in charge. At the request of the National Police, it has decreed a month's secrecy for proceedings not just to facilitate the investigations but also to maintain the privacy of the victims and their families.