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Fire Engulfs Office Building in Madrid

Fire Engulfs Upper Levels of Office Building in Madrid; Top Floors Collapse in Shower of Debris

A 32-story office building is seen engulfed in fire shortly before the collapsing of the upper floors in Madrid, Spain, early Sunday, Feb. 13, 2005. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known. (AP Photo/Jasper Juinen)

By HAROLD HECKLE Associated Press Writer

The Associated PressThe Associated Press

MADRID, Spain Feb 12, 2005 — A raging fire swept through the upper levels of a 32-story office building in downtown Madrid early Sunday, melting it like a candle and collapsing the top floors in a shower of flaming debris.

Bright orange flames shot out the sides of the Windsor Building, which is believed to be empty and is near one of Madrid's main boulevards.

The fire started around 11:30 p.m. Saturday and was still burning out of control avout three hours later. At least nine upper stories were on fire and muffled explosions could be heard in the building.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately known, but emergency services spokesman Javier Ayuso said it might have been a short circuit.

City officials were afraid the building might collapse entirely.

"At this point the fire can't be fought and we have to wait," said Pedro Calvo, the official in charge of the fire department and other emergency services.

Firefighters and police evacuated nearby buildings and streets for fear of a total collapse. Firefighters also started hosing down neighboring office buildings to keep the fire from spreading.

Ayuso said three firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and exhaustion.

Construction of the Windsor Building a landmark in Madrid's business district began in 1973 and was completed in 1979. It was surrounded by scaffolding due to recent repairs, Ayuso said.

The building housed the offices of Deloite Touche Tohmatsu, a multinational financial services company.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.