Office inferno forces Madrid shutdown

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The Independent Online

A blaze that devoured one of Madrid's largest buildings and shut down the commercial heart of the capital was finally under control last night after raging for nearly 24 hours.

A blaze that devoured one of Madrid's largest buildings and shut down the commercial heart of the capital was finally under control last night after raging for nearly 24 hours.

Hundreds of firefighters had struggled to cope with the fire, dousing the building with water from all sides and hosing down surrounding buildings to stop the flames spreading. Last night, grey smoke and ash stoked by gusts of wind continued to pour from the blackened shell of the building.

An electrical short-circuit is thought to have started the fire before midnight on Saturday on the 21st floor of the 32-storey Windsor office block, too high for firefighters' ladders. They had to wait until the fire took hold in lower floors before tackling it. Fears persisted that the building's smouldering concrete skeleton would collapse."This is the biggest fire ... this city has ever had," the mayor, Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, said. All transport links had been cut amid fears that the fire could spread through the building's cellars into a subterranean maze of car parks, tunnels and ducts.

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