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Hundreds face housing chaos as tower blocks evacuated over cladding fears

24 Juin 2017

More than 800 homes across five tower blocks in a north London housing estate have been evacuated due to "fire safety concerns" over flammable cladding.

Earlier on Friday, police said tests had been carried out on both the cladding tiles and the insulation used in the refit of the tower and they "don't pass any safety tests".

She added: "We are making sure that the authority has the ability to do what is necessary to ensure people have somewhere to stay and that the work is done so that those tower blocks will become safe for them to return to in future".

"At least 79 people are known to have died in the Grenfell Tower fire".

"Hundreds of Camden Council employees, led by myself and the Chief Executive, worked right through the night to support residents from around 650 homes into alternative accommodation".

The council had already announced it would immediately begin preparing to remove cladding from the five towers on the estate discovered in checks following the fire in north Kensington.

Residents of the estate attended a public meeting with council officials on Thursday evening.

The move comes amid escalating concerns among residents of thousands of tower blocks around Britain.

"It's totally insane. What difference would another night have made?" asked Melanie Tham as she evacuated her home on the Chalcots Estate in north London following a snap decision by the Camden Council local authority, a few hours before midnight Friday.

One resident of the Dorney block left their house as soon as they heard the news: "Our building is exactly the same".

A rest centre has been set up at Swiss Cottage Library, she added. "We're encouraging all residents to stay with friends and family if they can, otherwise we'll provide accommodation".

Some 83 households have refused to leave their homes and the council has warned they will be forced to leave because the building is not safe.

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"We will work with and support the emergency services and relevant authorities to safeguard the public", she said.

George - like many other residents - did not want to speak to the media.

Around 4000 people were told to leave their homes in North-West London, because of worries over fire safety. "We did our best I promise". "We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding".

Resident Renee Williams, 90, said she and her neighbours had been given no warning.

By 21:00 BST, council employees were going floor-by-floor to tell residents who did not know about the evacuation.

As previously suspected, the fire was not started intentionally. But when I got there they said there had been a mistake, someone else had taken the room. It will be three or four weeks.

Taplow resident Shirley Phillips said she had no sleep on Friday night after she was unable to secure a place in a hotel.

"We only had five minutes to get our stuff", he said.

British police have said they are considering bringing manslaughter charges over the Grenfell fire, the most deadly blaze in London since World War Two.

She thinks the work will take around three to four weeks to complete.

Friday night's announcement came as the Metropolitan Police said the Grenfell Tower fire started in a fridge-freezer, and outside cladding and insulation failed safety tests.

It has been claimed materials made by the company Reynobond, which manufactured the cladding on Grenfell Tower, were used in the construction of Brighton and Hove Albion's American Express Community Stadium.

Hundreds face housing chaos as tower blocks evacuated over cladding fears