UK: All building cladding samples tested failed fire safety

(Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP).

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said around 200 residents from 120 households were still refusing to leave their homes in four tower blocks evacuated in the Chalcots Estate in north London.

The Prime Minister said it is possible for some councils to take "mitigating action" on tower blocks, but in other cases it had been necessary to move people out.

Many people gathered at a nearby leisure center used as a temporary shelter complained about the chaotic situation. Some refused to leave.

The government, which is pushing for councils to speed up their assessment of high-rise buildings, said buildings in 25 local authorities in Doncaster, Norwich, Stockton-on-Tees and Sunderland had failed tests.

"The fact that all samples so far have failed the tests underlines the value of the testing programme we have set up with the Building Research Establishment to get samples checked properly in the laboratories".

The council called the operation "unprecedented in scale for Camden". It said about 650 apartments were evacuated, though initial reports had said it affected as many as 800 apartments.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said around 600 council flats have been evacuated due to concerns over "combustible" external cladding, insulation, gas pipes and fire doors. "Grenfell changed everything, and when told our blocks were unsafe to remain in, we acted".

"My thoughts are with residents being evacuated in Camden while their homes are made safe tonight", she said.

Hotpoint said Friday that "words can not express our sorrow at this awful tragedy" and added it was working with authorities to examine the appliance. The majority of the residents of the four buildings were evacuated on Friday night. Others were being put up in hotels or other housing projects.

"Lack of information about number of victims and survivors is driving a wedge between authorities and those they are elected to serve". Not all residents agreed to go.

Peter Bertram, 94, who has lived at the complex for 46 years, said the evacuation came in a "rush".

"It was only last night, about 10pm last night, I found out".

She said she was anxious about her children returning to school on Monday as they were distressed by the upheaval and had not been able to eat properly. The evacuees now face up to four weeks in limbo as workers try to upgrade the buildings' fire safety features. Urgent testing is being conducted on external siding panels on apartment blocks following the deadly June 14 blaze that engulfed Grenfell Tower, killing at least 79 people.

Police have told United Kingdom news outlets they are considering manslaughter charges in connection to the fire.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack was asked on Friday whether the insulation and aluminium tiles used on Grenfell were acceptable for such buildings. "We are looking at all health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower". "At one point they offered the hotel in Picadilly, but my daughter is at the school down the road". It means hundreds of inspections are still to take place in the aftermath of the fire.

  • Leroy Wright