Thousands of residents in a sprawling northwest London housing estate were forced to leave their apartments late Friday after fire checks carried out in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze found the buildings to be unsafe.
Residents clutching children, pets and small amounts of clothing and food emerged from five tower blocks to sleep on air beds in a local sports centre after hearing on the news that their buildings were being evacuated.
The council’s leader, Georgia Gould, said it would take up to four weeks to repair the blocks that were evacuated and said that some 4,000 residents were affected.
Camden Council said it decided to evacuate the buildings on the Chalcots Estate after fire inspectors told officials that the blocks were “not safe for people to sleep in overnight.”
Sky News quoted council Gould as saying the council secured 270 hotel rooms, 100 places in local public housing projects and asked neighbouring boroughs for support.
Eighty-three families who were asked to relocate have refused to move.
For now, Roger Evans is not planning to leave his first-floor apartment in the Taplow block of the Chalcots Estate because “it was a knee jerk reaction by the council,” he said.
“They had to be seen to be doing something. But this is just creating chaos and pandemonium,” he said.
Inspectors uncovered problems with “gas insulation and door stops,” which combined with the presence of flammable cladding meant residents had to leave immediately, Gould said in a tweet.
Fire checks have been carried out on some 600 high-rise buildings across England after a fire ravaged a social tower block in west London’s North Kensington district last week, killing at least 79 people.
Police investigating the cause of the deadly 24-storey Grenfell Tower blaze have said the fire started in a fridge but spread rapidly due to the use of external cladding on the building, trapping residents in their beds as they slept.
Britain’s government said on Saturday that cladding samples from 27 public apartment blocks in 15 areas have failed fire safety tests. It did not specify the locations of the buildings.
So far, Camden Council has been the only local authority known to have asked residents to leave as a precaution.