UK fire safety crisis expands; Hundreds evacuated in London


At least three states, as well as Washington, D.C., have deregulated the form of external building cladding investigators now believe was primarily responsible for the rapid spread of a blaze throughout Grenfell Tower fire in London on June 14, which killed at least 79 people.

The overnight fire rapidly engulfed Grenfell Tower, with flames shooting up the outside of the building, raising concerns that the cladding material attached to the concrete block didn't comply with fire-safety rules.

Thousands of residents were today evacuated from four housing towers as the United Kingdom government in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze found 27 high-rise residential blocks across Britain unsafe.

Added to the cladding, the London Fire Brigade "also identified concerns relating to services that have been run through compartment walls leading to possible breaches in the buildings ability to stop fire spreading", Dan Daly, assistant commissioner for fire safety, said in a statement after the evacuation.

25-year-old Ayman Ali, who lives on the ground floor of one the Chalcots towers, said that no one had asked him to evacuate his flat: "I've had no contact from anyone from the council for 24 hours or fire wardens so I made a decision to stay." .

Residents - including families with babies and elderly relatives - trooped out of the buildings late Friday night with suitcases and plastic bags stuffed with clothes.

But some residents of the Camden buildings, collectively known as Chalcots Estate, expressed frustration with the lack of information they received about the evacuations.

"I said to the fire service, is there absolutely anything I can do to make these blocks safe and they said they wasn't and then their firm advice was that we had to evacuate the blocks".

Many residents complained that they only found out about the evacuation through television and were not properly informed.

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Flammable external cladding that is widely used to provide insulation and enhance the appearance of buildings has been identified as the culprit in the Grenfell disaster. "This is a nightmare, there was a fire in the block two years ago and it was contained, so I don't really see what all the fuss is about". "There's no organization and it's chaos", she said.

Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the packed inflatable beds offered in the center's gym and went back to his own apartment.

The Metropolitan Police, which had launched a criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower tragedy, has said that detectives are keeping open the option of bringing manslaughter charges relating to the Grenfell fire.

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

The Government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze - the Hotpoint model FF175BP.

Hotpoint said it was working with authorities to examine the appliance, adding "words can not express our sorrow at this awful tragedy".

The Local Government Association said: "For those areas still waiting for results of tests on aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, our advice to them is to prepare contingency plans so they can take any measures needed quickly". One hotel chain, Premier Inn, is calling in experts to make certain its properties meet safety regulations.

Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday that the government would do "what is necessary" to ensure people would have somewhere to stay.