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London high-rises fail safety tests after Grenfell fire

26 June 2017

Twenty seven high-rise residential towers in 15 council areas in England have failed fire cladding safety tests, the government said on Saturday.

The shocking reality has forced authorities to evacuate hundreds of homes.

The worst fire to hit the capital since World War Two has prompted a nationwide review of high-rise buildings after police said the cladding used on Grenfell had failed all safety checks.

"However, the insulation material behind this outer cladding is a "rockwool" material which is a non-combustible product, unlike the case of the Grenfell Tower, where the insulation was a combustible type".

The Department for Communities said 34 apartment blocks had failed tests in 17 parts of the country, from London in the southeast to Manchester in the north and Plymouth on the southwest coast.

Around 20 families who have been ordered evacuated want to stay put, but Camden Council leader Georgia Gould says they must leave for the renovations to begin.

Refurbishment of the Chalcots Estate was overseen by Rydon, the company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower, according to the Rydon website.

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan backed Camden Council's decision to evacuate the apartment blocks.

"It was perfectly safe before, despite what they are saying now - I believe I am safe in there". Look, you've got to err on the side of caution.

Hundreds of people in north London's Chalcot's Estate have been kicked out so urgent fire safety work can be done.

Fallout from this month's catastrophic apartment tower fire keeps spreading across the United Kingdom, with more inspection failures and an order to vacate unsafe apartment buildings.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould said London Fire Brigade inspecting officers had identified concerns over the combination of external cladding, fire doors, gas pipes and insulation at the Chalcots Estate.

"This was held at its offices on Saturday, June 24 with representatives from Broadland Housing, Norwich City Council, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, developer Taylor Wimpey and managing agents of the adjacent blocks".

Residents - including families with babies and elderly relatives - trooped out of the buildings last Friday night with suitcases and plastic bags stuffed with clothes as council workers guided them to a local leisure centre, where some spent the night on inflatable mattresses packed into a gym.

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There are plans to test the fire resistance of cladding on up to 600 buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington on 14 June.

4000 residents have been told to vacate the tower blocks on the Chalcots estate.

Ms Gould has warned that the council may explore legal routes which would force people to leave their homes.

Sunday's announcement came as samples of exterior panels fitted to high-rise apartments are being tested to see if they are similar to those at London's Grenfell Tower, which was engulfed in an inferno that killed at least 79 people on June 14.

A general view of the housing towers of the Chalcots Estate in the borough of Camden, north London, Saturday June 24, 2017.

Local authorities and the Government are together "making sure the resources are there to ensure what is needed to keep people safe is being done", including finding alternative accommodation for those told to leave their homes, Mrs May said.

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