By Agence France-Presse
Residents of 800 tower block flats were being evacuated in London on Friday due to fire safety fears over their external cladding, after testing prompted by the deadly Grenfell Tower inferno.
The cladding on five of the Chalcots Estate towers is similar to the materials on Grenfell and have been widely blamed for the rapid spread of the massive blaze last week that is presumed to have killed 79 people.
The dramatic snap decision follows urgent testing of the towers’ exteriors, which were installed by the same contractor as the Grenfell Tower. As a result, Chalcots residents were being sent to hotels across the city.
Just hours earlier, police said that manslaughter charges could be brought over the Grenfell inferno, after finding that cladding on the building had failed safety tests and that the fire started with a faulty fridge.
“Grenfell changes everything and I don’t believe we can take any risks,” Georgia Gould, leader of the Camden Council local authority, told reporters, as residents left the five Chalcots Estate towers.
“It’s happening immediately… we could not be sure that people could be safe.”
“We know it’s a scary time but we will make sure that they stay safe,” said Gould.
“All we care about is getting people safely into accommodation while we do these urgent works. The cost we can deal with later.”
The council has been booking hotels across London and the works are expected to take up to four weeks.
Michelle Urquhart, who has been living in the Chalcots Estate’s Bray tower, said the situation was “frightening”.
“I don’t know where we are going to go.
“One man in a suit said to me ‘you can’t stay here tonight’.
“We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding.”
Chalcots resident Shirley Philips told Sky News television she had been given no notice before being told she must leave her home.
“It’s absolutely disgusting.
“I had a fire safety check done today. Why have they left it till 8:30 on Friday night to start getting residents out? Where do they think we’re all going?”
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