Fire causes power cuts in heart of Madrid

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The Independent Online

An electricity sub-station caught fire yesterday afternoon in the centre of Madrid, sending flames and thick black smoke across the city.

An electricity sub-station caught fire yesterday afternoon in the centre of Madrid, sending flames and thick black smoke across the city.

Foul-smelling, inky soot fell to earth, as police cordoned off streets and evacuated buildings threatened by the dense smoke and flames.

A power cut swept through the area surrounding the blaze that includes the Prado museum, restaurants and the Atocha train station, where most of the 11 March terrorist attacks took place.

At 1.15pm workers at the electricity sub-station were installinga new electrical transformer. Five minutes later, there was a huge explosion, which injured four workers. The fire spread to a nearby building that had flammable material inside, causing small explosions and increasing the amount of smoke.

Nearby buildings, including the stock exchange and Madrid's parliament, suffered power cuts. A parliamentary commission investigating the 11 March attacks was interrupted when the power was cut. For a few minutes the parliament staff and government representatives, as well as journalists, thought another terrorist attack was under way.

The cause was not immediately identified by authorities, but a worker who had been installing generators at the sub-station, which is owned by Union Fenosa, said that they exploded when they were turned on.

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