Published: Thu, June 29, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

London council evacuates residents amid fire safety concerns

London council evacuates residents amid fire safety concerns

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said the council chose to evacuate the blocks in north London's Chalcots Estate late on Friday after fire inspectors uncovered problems with "gas insulation and door stops".

Despite the safety fears, around 200 residents have refused to leave their homes, some of whom suffer from agoraphobia, according to local authority leader Georgia Gould.

Local authorities have now confirmed that 60 cladding samples taken from as many high-rise buildings across 25 local authority areas have failed fire safety tests. Not only were they clad with the same flammable material as Grenfell Tower, there were also concerns over gas pipes, insulation and fire doors.

Refurbishment of the building, including cladding, was overseen by Rydon, the company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower.

Combustible cladding was blamed for the rapid spread of that blaze.

She said: "If you think someone's in danger, especially in light of Grenfell, you take the first decision even if it's not ideal".

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack was asked on Friday whether the insulation and aluminium tiles used on Grenfell were acceptable for such buildings.

They will conduct regular checks of fire safety equipment, such as dry-risers and ensure self-closing fire resistant doors are in full working order.

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The government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze.

Mother-of-six Najmon Adam, who has lived in Bray for 12 years, said she would remain in her property until the council found accommodation in the borough for her family.

Prime Minister Theresa May has been criticised for her response to the Grenfell tower catastrophe, particularly for the handling of residents caught up in the ordeal and later those affected by the substandard cladding.

People were told to leave as darkness began to fall, with some taking belongings in suitcases and carrier bags, and some locals saying they only learned of the evacuation as they watched the news.

"The LGA has a team of staff working closely with councils and the Department for Communities and Local Government around-the-clock to help local authorities as they continue to support communities affected during this hard time".

The Government has also stressed that the failure in testing of the cladding would not necessarily mean that a building would have to be evacuated.

As the charred skeleton of the 24-storey Grenfell block looms over the west of the city, London MP David Lammy said trust has hit "rock bottom" as many in the local community believe more than 79 people were killed.

Tower blocks housing thousands of people across England are being urgently tested to check if their outer coverings pose a serious fire risk following the Grenfell Tower disaster, with almost a dozen already testing positive for combustible material. Grenfell Tower is situated in Kensington, one of the richest boroughs in Europe.

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