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National and international media widely covered the awful fire in two high-rise buildings in Valencia on 22 February. 10 people are reported dead, with 14 more injured. The fire was reported to have started in a kitchen appliance on the fourth storey of a 14-storey building and to have spread to the adjacent building. Every indication points to combustible cladding enabling rapid fire spread, as happened in the Grenfell Tower disaster in London in 2017, which also started in a kitchen appliance (a refrigerator). An expert who had inspected the building said that there was polyurethane-filled cladding on the building. This material was banned in 2019 but no steps were taken to remove it from existing buildings.

There have been many more combustible cladding fires in sprinklered buildings, in Dubai, Turkey, Sharjah and Australia which, while they caused considerable damage, did not lead to any deaths. In each case the sprinklers prevented the external cladding fire from breaking into the building. No building should be designed to be so vulnerable to fire and we would still recommend that combustible cladding be removed. Nevertheless, sprinklers offer a safety net where other measures are inadequate or in error.

Two weeks later, early on 4th March, a fire in a 24-storey building in Alicante killed three and hospitalised 14. This fire was reported at 02:15 and to have started in a unit on the 11th floor of the building on the Avenida Marineros in Vila Joiosa. 100 people had to be evacuated.