Tenants who escaped from a burning Milan tower block have compared the blaze to the Grenfell Tower disaster after the building’s ‘fire-proof’ cladding ‘melted like butter’.
Fears are now growing that the 20-storey apartment block is facing the risk of collapse, after temperatures blazed through the outer shell, making it less stable.
The fire broke out around 5:30pm local time at the Torre dei Moro building on via Giacomo Antonini in the southern outskirts of Milan, and was tackled by 15 fire engines and over 100 emergency service personnel.
Evacuees from a Milan tower block which went on fire compare the blaze to Grenfell Tower after the building’s ‘fire-proof’ cladding ‘melts like butter’
Fears are growing that the 20-storey apartment block could collapse today after a fire broke out around 5:30pm local time at the Torre dei Moro building
One of the building’s residents said that people were assured the panels covering the building were fire-resistant.
‘We were told that the panels that covered the building were fireproof, instead, they burned quickly like butter,’ a resident told local paper Corriere.
‘The technicians will do a check, but I remember perfectly well that they told us that the panels were fire resistant.’
The fire is reminiscent of the one which blazed through Grenfell Tower, where seventy-two people died at the west London block.
Residents said they were assured the panels covering the building were fire-resistant but debris was reportedly seen falling from the tower
An electrical fault with a fridge-freezer sparked the catastrophic fire, and the tower was coated in flammable materials which contributed to the spread of flames.
In Milan, residents reported seeing debris falling off the cladding after the fire was said to have broken out on the 15th floor.
Another resident added that they ‘didn’t imagine’ the tower would catch fire so quickly, and said within half an hour it ‘looked like paper mache’.
The nearly 200foot tall building, part of a 2012 development project, was designed to look like the keel of a ship and included an aluminium sail on its roof, which burned and fell to the street in pieces.
Italian residents are likening the building to Grenfell Tower, where seventy-two people died as a result of the blaze at the west London block (pictured)
The fire was reported by a resident on the 15th floor, who sounded the alarm as he descended the building telling other occupants to evacuate.
Carlo Sibia, an Interior Ministry official in Rome, said: ‘The cause of the fire still needs to be determined, but it seems that the rapid spread of the flames was due to the thermal covering of the building.’
Firefighters were continuing searches of the building and verifying damage to the structure. Prosecutors were also investigating for any indication of wrongdoing.
Every tenant has reportedly been safely evacuated and accounted for, but firefighters are conducting a thorough search of the building to ensure no one has been trapped.
The fire was reported by a resident on the 15th floor, who sounded the alarm as he descended the building telling other occupants to evacuate
Twenty tenants were checked on the scene by emergency services for smoke inhalation, but no hospitalisations have been recorded thus far.
Residents of the building included Italian rapper Mahmood, who was the 2019 winner of the San Remo music festival.
Milan’s mayor, Beppe Sala, arrived on the scene after the fire to inspect the damage and ensure the safety of the tenants and firefighters.
He said: ‘The firemen are going from apartment to apartment, knocking down doors to make sure no one remains inside.
‘We are positive about the fact that there was time to get out, but until the check is done we cannot be sure.’
Every tenant has reportedly been safely evacuated and accounted for, but firefighters are conducting a thorough search of the building to ensure no one has been trapped
Now the tower is facing the risk of collapse, after temperatures blazed through the outer shell, making it less stable
Sala said that there had been no reports of any victims in the fire so far, but added that some firefighters had sustained burns in their attempts to extinguish the flames.
‘They are carrying out commendable work, as always,’ he said.
The Torre dei Moro is a residential high rise measuring almost 200 feet high, which was built as part of a regeneration project in southern Milan.
Authorities reported the fire has destroyed many parts of the building almost entirely, and a perimeter has been set up by the Italian carabinieri and fire service to ensure a safe distance is kept from the building’s wreckage.
Another resident added that they ‘didn’t imagine’ the tower would catch fire so quickly, and said within half an hour it ‘looked like paper mache’
Nearby buildings have not been damaged, but the proximity of the building to a fuel distribution system and neighbouring houses has prompted further precautionary evacuations while firefighters complete their checks.
Firefighters believe the fire started from the upper floors, collapsing the windows of the building’s facade and generating a column of smoke visible from miles away, but this has not yet been verified.
‘It is difficult to make assumptions about how the fire started – it probably originated on the upper floors and it is not yet clear whether it started from the inside or from the outside,’ said Sala.
‘What the firefighters are doing is breaking down one door after another starting from the lower floors, in very difficult working conditions and with oxygen cylinders, to see if anyone is left inside.’