Valencia is still in a state of shock following the devastating fire that burned down two tower blocks on Avenida Maestro Serrano Avenue in just a matter of minutes and left, according to figures released on Sunday, ten people dead, including two babies.

As a sign of mourning, on Saturday, the Town Hall Square hosted a silent rally to remember the victims and pay tribute to the caretaker of this residential area, a hero who put his own life in danger as he attempted to save his neighbours.

Within tragedy, heroes always emerge who unwittingly become part of the story. This is the case of Julián, the janitor of one of the two burned out buildings, who was key to saving the lives of many of the building’s residents. Ten perished in the fire, but many others managed to get out in time because Julián was responsible for alerting them of the smoke and flames.

” I went up one of the staircases and warned people,” he said in the Valencia City Hall square following the minute of silence, held on Saturday afternoon in memory of victims of the fire.

He did not hesitate for a moment to run up the stairs and knock on the doors of many of the residents. “I went up floor by floor,” he explains.” I was knocking on the doors and telling people to get out of the building. I think I got up to the twelfth floor, although I don’t remember much because of what was going on. It was just the smoke and flames that made me stop.”

“The firefighters arrived and took charge, they would no longer let me go into the building,” he said. It was then that Julián took shelter in the patio area, in case the Emergency teams needed help, although the smoke was getting worse all the time.

His feat has earned him the recognition and, of course, the thanks, of many of the building’s residents and, also, his family. ” Many have thanked me,” he said, although the greatest thanks came from an “older lady” whom he helped get out of her apartment and, also, from “a man in a wheelchair,” who he managed to get out of the building alive.

The minute of silence held in Valencia in memory of the victims

In an extraordinary plenary session held on Saturday the mayor of València, María José Catalá, thanked all the municipal political groups for “the unity and strength” that members of his Council has displayed.

Following the minute of silence held after the extraordinary plenary session and in front of the doors of the town hall, as a sign of mourning for the victims of the fire, Catalá highlighted “the attitude, help and support of all the spokespersons who provided such invaluable efforts. He also proposed a motion conveying “all our gratitude to the State Security Forces and Bodies, to the firefighters, to the police, to the SAUS of the City Council, to all those who have worked in the last 48 hours without rest, risking their own lives and giving everything.”

The event was also attended by the president of the Generalitat, Carlos Mazón, the president of the Partido Popular, Alberto Nuñez Feijóo , MEP Esteban González Pons , and the Archbishop of Valencia, Enrique Benavent, in addition to representatives of other institutions such as Les Corts, the Provincial Council of Valencia and Alicante and the City Councils of Castellón and Alicante.

In other parts of the Valencian Community, displays of affection towards the city of Valencia have also been shown in their minutes of silence that have been held both on Friday and Saturday.

Without a doubt, Valencian society has shown it’s unity following one of the worst tragedies it has endured in recent years.