UK high-rise buildings fail fire safety tests

Residents leave the Taplow tower block on the Chalcots Estate in Camden London

Some 700 apartments were vacated as buildings were declared unsafe due to the cladding they were covered in, which was also used on the Grenfell Tower block in west London that went up in flames on June 14, leaving at least 79 people dead, Efe news reported.

Officials at Camden Council in north London have evacuated hundreds of apartments in four tower blocks as a precaution after fire inspectors concluded that they were unsafe.

Police investigating the cause of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower blaze have said the fire started in a fridge but spread rapidly due to external cladding on the building, trapping residents in their beds as they slept.

"It's totally insane. What difference would another night have made?" asked Ms Melanie Tham as she evacuated her home following a snap decision by the Camden Council local authority, a few hours before midnight last Friday.

Gould said that evacuating the five tower blocks was a "really, really hard decision" but needed to be done while urgent first safety work, which is due to take three to four weeks, was completed.

Council leader Ms Gould said: "Remaining residents in Taplow, Bray, Dorney and Burnham should evacuate their blocks and take up one of our temporary accommodation options, as this is the safest place for you to be".

However, she explained that "there are various legal routes that Camden Council could explore" if people refuse to leave their homes.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she said: "We've had a huge effort overnight to evacuate people".

They will conduct regular checks of fire safety equipment such as dry-risers and make sure self-closing fire resistant doors are in full working order.

"As we stated last week, none of the high rise blocks in Gentoo's ownership have the same cladding and insulation as appears to be the case at Grenfell Tower".

It said in a statement: "Where cladding fails the test, this will not necessarily mean moving residents from tower blocks".

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In New Zealand, similarly combustible cladding has been found on two buildings in Auckland, while tests are just starting to get under way in other main centres.

Evacuated residents faced chaos, with temporary accommodation offered in a local leisure center and hotels, but some refused to move.

Chalcots Estate resident Mandy Ryan said she felt intimidated and "bullied" by security as she tried to exit the building which the local council are trying to evacuate amid concerns over its cladding.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have said that a civil emergency needs to be declared to deal with tower block evacuations.

"I was at my boyfriend's, I received a text message, and I had to rush back home".

After evacuating all five blocks, the council announced that one of the five - a smaller tower called Blashord - didn't need to be evacuated, and told residents they could return.

Refurbishment of the Chalcots Estate was overseen by Rydon, the same company behind the refit of Grenfell Tower.

The evacuation of hundreds of London public housing residents from their apartments rolled on Saturday as the fallout from Britain's deadliest fire in generations continued to intensify and turn into a full-blown crisis.

"You don't get everyone to leave this quickly".

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News there would have to be a long-term review of safety regulations, stating: "That has to happen".

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