Hundreds evacuated from London towers as fire fallout widens

Hundreds evacuated from London towers as fire fallout widens

Hundreds evacuated from London towers as fire fallout widens

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant). Residents are evacuated from the Taplow residential tower block on the Chalcots Estate, in the borough of Camden, north London, Friday, June 23, 2017. While some news reports said as many as 800 households were affected, the council didn't specify a number in its latest release.

Flammable external cladding that is widely used to provide insulation and enhance the appearance of buildings has been identified as the culprit in the Grenfell disaster. A local London council has chose to evacuate some 800 households in apartment buildings it owns because of safety concerns following the devastating fire that killed 79 people in a west London high-rise. To encourage cooperation with authorities and get a true number of the victims, May said the government won't penalize any Grenfell fire survivors who were in the country illegally.

The cladding was installed on the 24-storey council-owned Grenfell Tower, which was built in 1974, as part of a refurbishment completed a year ago.

While fire officials believe it sparked from a refrigerator on the fourth floor, the cladding may have enabled it to race up the side of the building within minutes, stranding everyone inside.

Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been criticized for her slow response to the Grenfell tragedy, said Saturday that the government was supporting Camden officials to ensure residents have somewhere to stay while building work is done.

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"People are very concerned - I've spent most of the day visiting residents around my constituency particularly where there are concerns about cladding".

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.

The council's leader, Georgia Gould, said it would take up to four weeks to fix the blocks that were evacuated and said that some 4,000 residents were affected.

27 London tower blocks were evacuated in the weeks following the fire as buildings failed fire safety tests.

Buildings in 17 local authorities are now known to have cladding which is not compliant with current regulations - including towers in Manchester, Camden, Plymouth, Hounslow, Portsmouth, Barnet and Brent.

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Six people who sustained injuries in June 14 Grenfell Tower blaze remain in hospital, with two in critical condition.

The council has said that if people still choose to not leave their homes then it would "become a matter for the fire services".

British police have said they are considering bringing manslaughter charges over the Grenfell fire. Others were being put up in hotels and other housing projects. The unusual evacuation follows the fire that claimed at least 79 lives in a London high-rise last week.

McCormack also repeated calls for anyone with information about the fire and all those in the tower at the time to come forward as police continue to comb through the devastated building to try to identify all the victims.

Camden Council in north London started the evacuation Friday night so urgent safety upgrades could begin.

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Radical Housing Network, of which Grenfell Action Group is a member, said: "Today Grenfell residents staying together in a Kensington hotel were told they were going to be split up and scattered across London at a moment's notice". Similar inspections are ongoing elsewhere in Britain on hundreds of buildings.

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