London fire aftermath: UK govt finds 27 residential blocks 'unsafe'; over 650 flats evacuated

The UK government in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze has found 27 high-rise residential blocks across Britain to be unsafe

PTI June 24, 2017 17:26:07 IST
London fire aftermath: UK govt finds 27 residential blocks 'unsafe'; over 650 flats evacuated

London: The UK government in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze has found 27 high-rise residential blocks across Britain to be unsafe.

Residents of 650 flats in four tower blocks on an estate in the Swiss Cottage area of north London were evacuated on Friday night by the local Camden Council, following tests ordered in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze on 14 June, which claimed at least 79 lives and displaced hundreds others.

London fire aftermath UK govt finds 27 residential blocks unsafe over 650 flats evacuated

The Grenfell Tower in west London was engulfed by a fire on 14 June. AP

The estates evacuated were found to have cladding similar to Grenfell Tower, which Scotland Yard confirmed as a factor for the fire spreading rapidly through the 24-storey building after a fridge-freezer burst in one of the flats. Local councils and housing authorities have been given until Monday to submit cladding samples for these tests to ensure the material used on the exterior of their residential blocks are not made up of similar flammable material as in the massive Grenfell Tower blaze in west London last week.

Camden Council's Labour party leader Georgia Gould said the council had acted "as swiftly as we possibly can" to ensure people's safety after the fire service said they could not guarantee the residents' safety in those blocks.

"I know it's difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don't believe we can take any risk with our residents' safety and I have to put them first," she said.

"I offered to pay for fire stations to be stationed outside all of those blocks so we could have a couple of days to get the work done but the message was there was absolutely nothing I could do to make those blocks safe that night," she added.

Once the flats are evacuated, the external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots Estate will be removed.

There were also concerns raised about the insulation of gas pipes going into flats, and fire doors. The council has secured 270 hotel rooms to house the residents. Emergency accommodation has also been set up at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre and at the Camden Centre in King's Cross nearby.

"We're encouraging all residents to stay with friends and family if they can, otherwise we'll provide accommodation," the council said.

Work on the tower blocks is expected to take three to four weeks. Residents will be allowed into their flats at the weekend
to collect more possessions under escort from the fire brigade.

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