800 Households To Be Evacuated From Camden High-Rises To Allow Fire Safety Works

800 Households To Be Evacuated From Camden High-Rises To Allow Fire Safety Works

Eight hundred households are to be evacuated from a council estate in north London in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire to allow "urgent fire safety works" to take place.

The high-rise buildings on the Chalcots estate in Camden were being emptied on Friday evening after firefighters said they "could not guarantee our residents' safety", local council leader Georgia Gould said.

She told Sky that a rest centre had been set up and residents were being found hotels and other accommodation.

Camden Council initially said just some 161 households in the Taplow building on the estate were being "temporarily decanted" to allow up to four weeks of work to be done to the building.

But Ms Gould later told Sky: "We think at the moment it's about 800 (households) but it's an emerging picture."

The rest centre is at Swiss Cottage library, she said, adding: "People are on the ground now talking to residents, working with them to move them to the rest centre. It is happening immediately."

The council had already announced that it would immediately begin preparing to remove cladding from five towers on the estate discovered in checks following the fire in north Kensington which killed at least 79 people.

In a statement on Friday evening Ms Gould said firefighters and council officials had inspected the estate on Friday and said the buildings should be emptied.

Ms Gould said that it was expected the work would take three or four weeks, adding: "We realise that this is hugely distressing for everyone affected and we will be doing all we can, alongside the London Fire Brigade and other authorities, to support our residents at this difficult time.

"The Grenfell fire changes everything - we need to do everything we can to keep residents safe."

It came as four more victims of Grenfell Tower were formally identified, taking the known victims of the fire to nine.

Scotland Yard also revealed manslaughter charges are being considered by detectives investigating the blaze in the tower in west London, which had failed fire safety tests.

Michelle Urquhart, who has been living in the estate's Bray tower, told the Press Association: "It's a bit frightening.

"They are talking about evacuating all five blocks.

"At the moment they haven't done it and they are saying they will knock on everyone's doors when they are ready.

"I don't know where we are going to go.

"One man in a suit said to me 'you can't stay here tonight'.

"I'm so angry because we had the meeting with the council last night and they tried to reassure us.

"We have been living in these flats for the last 10 years with this cladding."

Chalcots resident Shirley Philips told Sky she was given no notice before being told she must leave her home.

She said: "I think it's absolutely disgusting. We've had the fire brigade all day, Camden Council, police.

"I had a fire safety check done today. Why have they left it til half past eight on Friday night to start getting residents out? Where do they think we're all going?"

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he was in contact with the council and emergency services.

He said: "There is a particular set of circumstances on this estate that make this necessary, which has been identified following good work between Camden Council and the London Fire Brigade.

"Fire safety checks are ongoing at other estates across the UK."

Teacher Kim Price, who lives in Blashford tower with her 14-year-old son, said: "I really don't know what to do, I'm so scared right now.

"The news has said 'get out now' but the authorities have said 'stay put'.

"But why now? At 4pm today they said it would be okay and that all the checks were fine.

"And now all of a sudden the news is saying we should get out.

"I have family in Wales who are saying 'come here, we'll come and get you'.

"I've tried calling the council and all you're getting is nothing. All they're saying is 'you're safe inside'.

"We've had two letters in two days saying 'you're not safe' then 'you're safe'. I don't really know what to do.

"I don't really trust them to be honest but it's not their fault either, it's a very big thing to take on.

"They couldn't have foreseen this.

"I just want to be safe."

Refurbishment on the Chalcots estate in Camden was overseen by Rydon, the company involved in the refit of Grenfell Tower, according to the Rydon website.

The website said the Chalcots project was a £66 million refurbishment that lasted 191 weeks.

The work included external thermal rain screen cladding to five towers, new aluminium thermally broken windows to five towers and overhaul of external roofs

It added that 711 flats were modernised with new wiring, heating, kitchens and bathrooms.

Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: "My thoughts are with residents being evacuated in Camden while their homes are made safe tonight.

"We will work with and support the emergency services and relevant authorities to safeguard the public.

"Have asked @sajidjavid to keep me regularly updated & ensure we are offering every support we can to residents & those working onsite."


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