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Fire Guts One of Spain's Tallest Buildings

The Windsor, at 348 feet one of the tallest office buildings in Madrid, Spain, was gutted by an uncontrollable fire on the weekend of February 12-13, although its concrete structure remained intact. The 28-story building was empty at the time and there were no serious injuries. The Windsor was built in 1974-79 by local architects Genaro Alas and Pedro Casariego. It is located in the AZCA development in the heart of Madrid's financial center near the Castellano boulevard. The fire temporarily disrupted a nearby mass transit hub used by 600,000 people daily. The building's main tenant was the Deloitte auditing firm, which lost its New York offices in the Twin Towers in September 2001.

The fire broke out in a locked office on the 21st floor and quickly spread to other floors via the exterior curtain wall, whose upper sections collapsed. The cause is thought to be a short circuit, but is under investigation. The building was being rehabilitated to meet Madrid's latest fire protection regulations, passed in 1999 and updated in 2003. The work, which was far from complete, included the addition of a second fire stair, the compartmentalization of floors, the protection of the curtain wall's exposed steel structure and its spandrel panels to prevent the spread of fire from floor to floor, the installation of sprinklers and smoke detectors, etc. The concrete skeleton supported temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius during the fire, which burned for 18 hours. The remains of the building will be demolished.

David Cohn