São Paulo Tower Collapsed After Fire

Sao Paulo fire

About 50 families reportedly were living in the abandoned building.

The house collapsed after the fire completely engulfed the lower ten floors.

Firefighter Andre Elias told Globo TV that they expected to find more victims but did not know how many. The fire is believed to have originated on the fifth floor, presumably because of the blast of a gas tank, and quickly swept through the entire building.

The city and state governments have been working for years to forcibly remove squatters from buildings in central Sao Paulo, with plans for regenerating the area. Firefighters set up a perimeter and worked to evacuate people.

In a June 2017 story on the occupations, The Associated Press reported that around 350 families were living in the former police headquarters.

Debris could be seen smashing into the ground and occupying surrounding streets.

An adjacent building caught fire, but was evacuated and no one was injured.

President Michel Temer, who is Brazil's most unpopular leader on record, with single-digit approval ratings, got a hostile reception when he briefly visited the scene. "I had to come, despite these protests, because I was in Sao Paulo, and it would have looked bad if I didn't", he told journalists.

First responders are using dogs and removing rubble by hand in the hope of finding survivors, the Sao Paulo Fire Department tweeted. The government estimates that almost 4,000 families are living in vacant buildings downtown.

More than 150 firefighters are battling the blaze, which caused the building to crumble around 2:30 local time (5:30 GMT). "Others are less established and more precarious". He had envisioned a revitalized downtown, a glitzy showcase for one of the hemisphere's most important financial centers.

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