London tower blocks evacuated over fire fears

Over 100 people were evacuated late on Friday from buildings in Camden.

Sections of the cladding are now be tested at a Government lab and until the results are back the council will deploy two fire marshals who will remain in these two blocks 24 hours a day.

Britain's Press Association reports that dozens of people have refused to leave their homes on a London housing estate, defying efforts by officials to evacuate some apartment blocks due to fire safety concerns.

London fire brigade officers speak to each other as residents are evacuated from the Taplow residential tower block on the Chalcots Estate, in the borough of Camden, north London, Friday, June 23, 2017.

An in-depth look at the causes of the Grenfell Tower blaze by the New York Times detailed how in the United Kingdom, a "drive by successive governments from both major political parties to free businesses from the burden of safety regulations" allowed the tower's owners to swaddle the outside of the building in a highly flammable aluminum and polyethylene cladding.

But some residents of the Camden buildings, collectively known as Chalcots Estate, expressed frustration with the lack of information they received about the evacuations.

The statement read: "We have been made aware that the recent fire at Grenfell Tower in West London may have originated in a Hotpoint branded fridge freezer, manufactured between March 2006 and July 2009, model numbers FF175BP (white) and FF175BG (graphite)". Public attention has focused on the external cladding material blamed for the rapid spread of that blaze - but now it appeared that multiple other fire risks have been identified in some blocks.

Along with local councils, NHS Trusts have also been told to urgently check their buildings to establish whether they are clad in materials used on Grenfell Tower.

Ayda Auston, a 57-year-old from Turkey who bought her flat 22 years ago, said that she felt "lucky" that because her home is on the ground floor she hadn't been ordered to leave until Saturday.

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"At 8:30pm (1930GMT) yesterday they told us: "you have to leave", I don't understand why", Murtaza Taha, 27, told AFP.

She said the work is expected to take three to four weeks. Similar inspections are ongoing elsewhere in Britain on hundreds of buildings.

Police said Friday they are considering filing manslaughter charges in the Grenfell disaster and they were conducting a wide-ranging investigation that will look at everything that contributed to it.

"We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards", Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters.

Refurbishment on the Chalcots Estate evacuated overnight was also overseen by Rydon, the company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower, according to its website.

Around 600 tower blocks are enclosed in potentially deadly cladding, with councils in Manchester, Portsmouth and London all announcing they were to immediately remove cladding from 13 structures. One hotel chain, Premier Inn, is calling in experts to make certain its properties meet safety regulations.

Police says 79 people are either dead or missing and presumed dead in the blaze, although that number may change.

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who was forced to apologize for the government's initial slow response to the fire, said the authorities were now racing to establish what needed to be done.

"What do people want me to do?"

  • Michelle Webb