São Paulo tower collapses

Nick Myall
02 May 2018

Modifications to a Brazilian tower may have added to the severity of the fire...

A 26-storey building has collapsed 90 minutes after catching fire in Brazil's largest city, São Paulo, killing at least one person.

More than 150 firefighters battled the blaze which is thought to have been caused by a gas explosion.

According to the BBC web site, the high-rise, which was engulfed in flames, had been occupied by squatters. Fire authorities said they feared more people were trapped inside. This incident comes after several homes were destroyed by a fire last year in a favela in the city.

Witnesses said flames at the 26-storey building spread quickly from one of the lower floors and set an adjacent building on fire.

Some 50 families had moved into the building in the Largo do Paissandu area of the city after the federal police force, which had been using it, vacated it some years ago.

The São Paulo newspaper Estadão reported that makeshift living compartments in the building had been constructed from wood, aiding the spread of the blaze through the floors.

Firefighters evacuated the high-rise but as they were taking out the last of the residents the building collapsed, killing one man. One firefighter was injured, Estadão reported.

"It was a matter of seconds but we couldn't save him," firefighter Max Mena said. "It felt like a tsunami when the building came down," a 58-year-old woman who lived on the fourth floor told Folha newspaper. "I could not take anything with me."

São Paulo Governor Márcio França said the building was an accident waiting to happen but that its residents had resisted leaving.

"That type of home is uninhabitable, staying there is looking for trouble," he said speaking at the site of the blaze.

Apparently lifts had recently been taken out and the empty air shafts formed a chimney. Large amounts of combustible material, such as wood and paper helped fuel the fire.

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