The Latest: 34 UK high-rise buildings fail fire safety tests
LONDON (AP) — The Latest on response to deadly tower-block fire in London (all times local):
Britain’s government now says cladding samples from 34 high-rise apartment towers across the country have failed fire safety tests.
Earlier Saturday, officials had put the figure of affected tower blocks at 27, saying they are located in cities from London to Manchester and Portsmouth. 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.
Flammable cladding was blamed for helping that fire spread so rapidly throughout the 24-story building.
Officials in north London’s Camden area have been evacuating hundreds of residents from four public housing blocks on Friday and Saturday after fire inspectors found issues with the buildings’ cladding, gas pipe insulation and fire doors.
British Prime Minister Theresa May says the government is supporting local authorities in London to make sure residents evacuated from four public housing blocks due to fire safety concerns will have somewhere to stay.
Over 600 apartments were evacuated overnight after fire inspectors concluded that the buildings, in north London’s Camden area, were unsafe because of problematic fire doors, gas pipe insulation, and external cladding similar to that blamed for the rapid spread of a fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14. Residents say they were given little notice and were forced to seek emergency shelter.
May added that the government is working with local authorities across the country to address fire safety fears about apartment towers.
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.
Camden Council in north London decided that hundreds of residents at the Chalcots Estate had to leave Friday night amid safety fears linked to the deadly inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower on June 14. Four tower blocks were evacuated following worries about the blocks’ external cladding and gas pipe insulation.
Many people gathered at a nearby leisure center used as a temporary shelter complained about the chaotic situation.
Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the packed inflatable beds offered in the center’s gym and went back to his own apartment. He said officials knocked on residents’ doors Friday night, two hours after he had heard about the evacuation on the news.
Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said if residents had not left their homes after being visited again by officials on Saturday, “it will become a matter for the fire service.”
Britain’s government now says that 27 high-rise apartment blocks in 15 areas have failed fire cladding safety tests.
Officials had said earlier that samples of cladding panels from 14 buildings in London, Manchester and Plymouth had been found to be combustible.
The testing is being done as officials around Britain scramble to assess the safety of apartment buildings following the June 14 inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London, killing an estimated 79 people. Combustible cladding used to insulate that tower and improve its appearance has been blamed for the rapid spread of the blaze.
A local council in London says it evacuated some 650 homes overnight after inspectors found fire safety issues in four public housing towers, following the inferno in awest London apartment block that killed 79.
The revised number was lower than the 800 estimated Friday night.
Camden Borough Council says in a statement Saturday that it housed many of the residents at two temporary shelters while many others were provided hotel rooms.
The council is working with police, firefighters and the British Red Cross to help the evacuees.
Sky News quoted council leader Georgia Gould as saying the council secured 270 hotel rooms, 100 places in local public housing projects and asked neighboring boroughs for support.
The residents of roughly 800 apartments in London have been evacuated due to fire-safety concerns.
Many are being housed Saturday in temporary shelters. The unusual evacuation follows the fire that claimed at least 79 lives in a London high-rise last week.
That fire was found to have been spread by a type of exterior cladding also found on the buildings that were evacuated.
Camden Council in north London started the evacuation Friday night so urgent safety upgrades could begin.
Officials say they acted because fire officials said they could not guarantee the safety of residents. Similar inspections are ongoing elsewhere in Britain on hundreds of buildings.