Firefighters Trapped in Madrid High-rise Fire 2005 - Inside Story

Madrid High-rise Fire 2005

Fire came heading directly at Milara’s crew as the fire gases above their heads ignited. He took the nozzle himself and applied a series of nozzle pulsations into the flaming gases. This had no effect on the fire so he resorted to a series of long bursts of water-fog, trying to reach the entire volume of flaming combustion gases that filled the overhead. There were desperate attempts to halt the fire at this point in an effort to stop flaming gases from getting above and behind the firefighters, but the water was evaporating within three feet (one metre) of leaving the nozzle and the radiative heat levels were exhausting. With fire spreading above them in the false ceiling further attempts were made to halt the fire’s progress by changing to straight stream in an effort to displace the ceiling tiles in order to get at the fire, but it was noted that the pressure from the building’s hose-line was very poor and the stream reach inadequate..........

The firefighters on the nozzle, Milara and his commander all became separated (by the collapse) as heavy smoke increased, causing a dramatic reduction in visibility. Then Milara could hear a firefighter screaming ‘help … I am dying’. He quickly located this firefighter who had lost his helmet and SCBA mask during the interior structural collapse. As the firefighter reached Milara he grabbed at him, taken Milara’s helmet and mask off as well.

Milara writes, ‘in that instant, I felt as if something had hit me in the face. The fire must have been close and the temperature up around 300-400 deg C (570-750 deg F). As I breathed in the hot gases I felt as if I had suddenly been KO’d in a boxing ring’! The other firefighter was now unconscious on the floor and Milara was himself calling for assistance. One firefighter was able to assist Milara’s collapsed colleague out towards the stairway but it was left to Milara to find his own way out. Crawling along on his hands and knees, hardly able to breath, he suddenly realized he had become disorientated and lost. He managed to find his way inside an office but he felt weak and was fast giving up the fight to escape. At this point all he could think of were the images of his smiling children’s faces and that of his wife. He writes, ‘Alone I thought everything is finished, this is my end. I still don’t know how I managed to get out of that office in this blazing high-rise and make it along the corridor without my mask.

www.euro-firefighter.com

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