London towers being evacuated over fire safety fears: authorities

Trevor Jackson
June 25, 2017

(Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP).

Harley Facades was contracted by Wates Construction on behalf of Croydon Council in the early 2000s to clad the exterior of two blocks in Regina Road, in South Norwood and two in the Waldrons in Waddon. Some refused to leave their high-rise apartments.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said it chose to evacuate four blocks in north London's Chalcots Estate late Friday after fire inspectors uncovered problems with "gas insulation and door stops", which, combined with the presence of flammable cladding encasing the buildings, meant residents had to leave immediately.

The estate's cladding is similar to Grenfell Tower in west London, where a blaze is feared to have killed at least 79 people.

Mrs May said the Government was working with local authorities across the country to address fire safety concerns about tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Some 4,000 residents of the Chalcots Estate in Camden, north London, were told to vacate their apartments on Friday after the Fire Brigade ruled that their tower blocks were unsafe.

The post London evacuates 650 apartments overnight during fire inspection blitz appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Officials say they acted because fire officials said they could not guarantee the safety of residents.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the failed tests as a "nationwide threat" as he urged the Prime Minister to convene the Government's emergency committee to provide a "national response".

May told the House of Commons on Thursday that government facilities have found combustible cladding after local officials submitted samples in the wake of the fire.

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In its most detailed briefing yet on the criminal investigation, the Metropolitan Police on Friday confirmed residents' suspicions that the inferno at Grenfell was touched off by a refrigerator fire.

Roger Evans, 51, who said he found out that his building was being cleared after a friend saw it on the news and alerted him by text, told the Press Association: "As far as I am concerned, nothing in that building has changed in the last few days, weeks, months or years".

"I've sat in a chair over there since nine o'clock last night, I'm 72 years old, suffer with emphysema, and they can't rehouse me because I've got a dog. And they told us that they will cut our gas", she said.

Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the packed inflatable beds offered in the center's gym and went back to his own apartment.

Other high-rise buildings, such as some used by the NHS, were also being tested.

Police said manslaughter charges are possible in the deadly blaze.

Fiona McCormack from the London police said that tiles and insulation on the outside of the building "don't pass any safety tests".

Six emails sent by and to an Arconic Inc (ARNC.N) sales manager raise questions about why the company supplied combustible cladding to a distributor for use at Grenfell Tower, despite publicly warning such panels were a fire risk for tall buildings. McCormack said the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer had not been subject to any product recalls.

Hotpoint said Friday that "words can not express our sorrow at this bad tragedy" and added it was working with authorities to examine the appliance.

A New York Times investigation pointed to the failure of a business-friendly government, under pressure to allow builders to use cheaper, flammable material that is forbidden in the US despite its risks. One hotel chain, Premier Inn, is calling in experts to make certain its properties meet safety regulations. Prime Minister Theresa May also said the government won't penalize any fire survivors in the country illegally.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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