Fire safety concern to force hundreds from London homes


Hundreds of people have been told to leave their homes in north London after at least 27 high-rise tower blocks failed fire cladding safety tests following fears of a repeat of the deadly Grenfell tragedy.

The evacuation plan was put into action by London's Camden Council after the government-commissioned safety tests.

The evacuations started on Friday with 650 flats in Chalcots Estate in Swiss Cottage area, creating confusion among residents who were offered temporary accommodations at leisure centers and hotels.

"We were told by London Fire Brigade that it wasn't safe to stay in four Chalcots blocks -- Grenfell changes everything, and we had to act fast," Camden Council Leader Georgia Gould said.

Gould said 83 residents in the evacuated flats had refused to leave their flats but the council warned that any residents refusing to leave their homes would be forcefully evacuated due to fire safety concerns.

"The work to make the blocks safe is expected to take three to four weeks. An operation of this scale, at such pace, is not without issues and problems along the way, but we had to do this, we have to act on fire service advice," she said in a statement.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News on Saturday the evacuation was not because of the cladding alone, but "multiple other fire safety failures", including problems with insulation on gas pipes and missing fire doors.

Prime Minister Theresa May offered "every support" to those being evacuated.

The Department for Communities and Local Governments said the "safety of residents is paramount" and "the Camden Council and the Fire and Rescue Service are rightly working together to implement their responsibilities under the Emergency Fire Safety Review that we sent them yesterday [Friday]".

At least 79 people died or remain missing presumed dead in the Grenfell Tower block fire of June 14.

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