UK: All building cladding samples tested failed fire safety
UK: All building cladding samples tested failed fire safety
People arrive at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre and Library
26 June, 2017, 00:51
Baffled and bewildered, residents of five London tower blocks dragged their belongings through the streets in the middle of the night, having been told to pack up and leave due to fire safety concerns in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
After the news that cladding samples from every tower block tested so far had failed combustibility tests, the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, urged local authorities and housing associations to continue to submit samples "as a matter of urgency".
Hundreds of tower blocks around the country have had cladding tested in the wake of the London blaze, in which at least 79 people are thought to have died.
Residents evacuate from the Taplow Tower residential block on the Chalcots Estate in north London on June 23, 2017 because of fire safety concerns.
A public inquiry is due to determine how the unsafe cladding was allowed to be fitted onto Grenfell and other buildings in the first place.
Cladding has been removed on two Portsmouth tower blocks after being found to be a fire risk, although local officials insisted the buildings were still safe for residents to stay in. They say about a dozen families still remaining in their apartments must leave.
People living in 20 flats on the estate were still refusing to vacate their homes late on Saturday evening as the local authority warned it could explore legal routes to "require people to leave their homes".
But in the statement he stressed "cladding itself is not dangerous" and that a failure in testing does not necessarily mean a building will be evacuated.
"It was perfectly safe before, despite what they are saying now - I believe I am safe in there".
The Department for Communities said 34 apartment blocks had failed tests in 17 parts of the country, from London in the south-east to Manchester in the north and Plymouth on the south-west coast.
"Together we're making sure that the resources are there to ensure that what is needed to keep people safe is being done".
Evacuated residents faced chaos, with temporary accommodation offered in a local leisure center and hotels, but some refused to move.
The shocking reality has forced authorities to evacuate hundreds of homes.
Many residents complained on Saturday that they only found out about the evacuation through television and were not properly informed.
Construction work continues on Blashford and will begin on other four blocks today.
"I was at my boyfriend's, I received a text message, and I had to rush back home".
Chalcots was refurbished between 2006 and 2009 by the same firm, Rydon, that oversaw work at Grenfell Tower in 2015-16.
Besides the cladding concerns, he noted, residents want the council to install sprinklers and fire alarms, which are now absent in the high-rise apartments, as well as provide fire blankets.
Councillor Richard Cornelius, leader of Barnet Council, said: "Although the exterior cladding panels are similar to those reportedly used at Grenfell Tower, the insulation materials behind the exterior panels are different and made from a non-combustible mineral fibre material". Look, you've got to err on the side of caution.
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The government will work with local authorities to make sure any unsafe material is removed and residents are safe, she said . Specifics on where the buildings were located were not given, but officials said they were in 15 council areas.
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