800 Londoners cleared out over fear of fire

LONDON: Residents of 800 London flats were hurriedly evacuated on Saturday due to fire safety fears over their tower blocks’ external cladding, after testing prompted by the Grenfell Tower inferno.

The cladding on the five Chalcots Estate towers is similar to that used on Grenfell, blamed for the rapid spread of the massive blaze last week that is presumed to have killed 79 people.

The dramatic decision follows urgent testing of the towers’ exteriors, which were installed by the same contractor as the Grenfell Tower. As a result, Chalcots residents were being sent to hotels across the city.

“Grenfell changes everything and I don’t believe we can take any risks,” said Georgia Gould, leader of the Camden Council local authority, as residents left the five Chalcots Estate towers. “We could not be sure that people could be safe. We had to do this. We have to act on fire service advice.”

The council has been booking hotels across London and the works are expected to take up to four weeks.

Chalcots resident Shirley Philips told Sky News television she had been given no notice before being told she must leave her home. “It’s absolutely disgusting,” asking why the decision had been left so late in the day. “Where do they think we’re all going?”

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