London Evacuates Tower Blocks As Fire Fallout Widens
The scope of Britain's fire-safety crisis broadened on Saturday, as London officials scrambled to evacuate four public housing towers due to concerns about fire doors and insulation around gas pipes.
This has left residents angry and confused.
Camden Council said it decided to evacuate the buildings on the Chalcots Estate after fire inspectors told officials they couldn't guarantee the safety of residents. Inspectors uncovered problems with "gas insulation and door stops," which combined with the presence of flammable cladding meant the buildings were unsafe, council Leader Georgia Gould said in a tweet.
Camden council said about 650 apartments were evacuated. Initial reports had said that as many as 800 were affected.
Meanwhile, the national government said Saturday that cladding samples from 27 high-rise apartment blocks in 15 areas have failed fire safety tests. It did not specify the locations of the buildings, and no further evacuations were reported.
That expands the focus beyond the external cladding blamed for the rapid spread of a deadly inferno in west London on June 14. The blaze that engulfed Grenfell Tower killed at least 79 people in a tragedy that shocked the nation.
"The London Fire Brigade advised that there were a number of fire safety issues that we and the LFB were previously unaware of in the Chalcots buildings and recommended that residents should not remain in the buildings until these issues are resolved," Gould said in a statement early Saturday.