Image: António Pedro Santos/ Lusa

Copper theft caused Amadora explosion

Missing valve prompted gas leak

Authorities are convinced that a copper thief (or thieves) are behind the devastating explosion that ripped through an Amadora apartment block earlier this week, injuring 16 people (six of them firefighters, and one critically).

The question now is how to find the thief/ thieves.

The investigation may be able to work with CCTV images. No reports have yet explained.

But the cause of the incident that has left 39 people ‘homeless’ and caused serious issues to the gas supply network in adjoining buildings, not to mention various parked cars, appears to be clear: a copper valve within the gas meter of the apartment block had been removed.

It must have been removed shortly before the explosion (so this narrows down the time-frame on which investigators need to focus).

CM describes a labourer having entered the building at 8am to work on the 6th floor. It was at 10am that he smelt “a strong smell of gas” and went to the gas meter to turn off the safety-valve.

“But he couldn’t find it”, says the paper. The man then went on to warn a resident on the 5th floor and together they went door-to-door alerting others, as authorities also were informed.

At 11am firefighters arrived. They used the stairs to reach the floor where the smell of gas was most intense. But at some point after their arrival, someone ‘activated the lift’.

According to CM, this ignited the gas which had been leaking (by this time probably for the best part of two hours) and accumulating in the lift shaft.

The worst injured person, 25-year-old firefighter João Dias was projected “to the lift well, falling from the 6th floor to the 2nd”, says the paper.

He suffered multiple fractures and is being treated in hospital.

A second firefighter is also in hospital with suspected head trauma.

As to the rest, for the time being most of those rendered homeless are staying with family/ friends. Eight have been temporarily put up in a local hostel.

It is impossible for any of them to return home as it simply isn’t safe. Just yesterday firefighters were called to two nearby apartment blocks because they too had started to smell of gas.

Says CM, the entire gas network in the area may have been compromised.

Whatever the situation, for the residents of the building a return to normality is unlikely to come for months, the paper warns.

[email protected]