60 high-rise apart­ment tow­ers in Bri­tain fail fire safety test.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY SYLVIA HUI

LONDON | The list of high-rise apart­ment tow­ers in Bri­tain that have failed fire safety tests grew to 60, of­fi­cials said Sun­day, re­veal­ing the mount­ing chal­lenge the gov­ern­ment faces in the af­ter­math of London’s Gren­fell Tower fire car­nage.

All of the buildings for which ex­ter­nal cladding sam­ples were so far sub­mit­ted failed com­bustibil­ity tests, Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid said. As of late Sun­day, that in­cludes 60 tow­ers from 25 dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the coun­try — dou­ble the fig­ure given a day ear­lier.

The num­ber of buildings at risk is likely to grow as own­ers and lo­cal of­fi­cials pro­vide more sam­ples for safety tests.

The na­tional test­ing was or­dered af­ter an in­ferno en­gulfed Gren­fell Tower in west London on June 14. The tower’s cladding — pan­els widely used to in­su­late buildings and im­prove their ap­pear­ance — was be­lieved to have rapidly spread that blaze, which killed at least 79 peo­ple.

In north London, of­fi­cials try­ing to avoid an­other fire dis­as­ter sought to com­plete the evac­u­a­tion of hun­dreds of apart­ments in four tow­ers deemed un­safe. They faced re­sis­tance as some 200 res­i­dents re­fused to budge.

Cam­den Coun­cil or­dered res­i­dents from some 600 apart­ments at Chal­cots Es­tate to evac­u­ate late Fri­day as a pre­cau­tion af­ter fire in­spec­tors found prob­lems with the blocks’ fire doors and gas pipes.

The coun­cil said res­i­dents must leave im­me­di­ately be­cause of those is­sues and be­cause the tow­ers were en­cased in sim­i­lar cladding to the ma­te­rial used at Gren­fell Tower.

Hun­dreds were put up in ho­tels and other tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion. The evac­uees now face up to four weeks in limbo as work­ers try to up­grade the buildings’ fire safety fea­tures. Coun­cil leader Ge­or­gia Gould said those still stay­ing in their homes must leave for the ren­o­va­tions to be­gin.

Sayed Meah, 34, who lives with his mother and wife, said he would not move un­til the com­pany that helps care for his mother agrees to pro­vide ser­vice at a new lo­ca­tion.

He said he and other res­i­dents are de­ter­mined to re­main in their apart­ments un­til a le­gal no­tice is ob­tained or they are “dragged out by their fin­ger­nails.”

Re­fur­bish­ment of the Chal­cots tow­ers was over­seen by Ry­don, the same com­pany in­volved in the re­cent ren­o­va­tion of the now-dev­as­tated Gren­fell Tower.

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.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan backed the Cam­den Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to evac­u­ate the apart­ment blocks.

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