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UK fire safety crisis expands; Hundreds evacuated in London

25 June 2017

British officials have conducted tests on some 600 high-rise buildings across England after fire ravaged the Grenfell social tower block in west London on June 14, killing at least 79 people in the capital's most deadly blaze since World War Two.

Britain's government said on Saturday that cladding samples from 27 public apartment blocks in 15 areas have failed fire safety tests.

These housing developments are sited around London, Manchester, Plymouth, and Portsmouth.

Ms Gould said the council chose to evacuate the buildings on the Chalcots Estate late on Friday after fire inspectors told officials the blocks were unsafe. A local London council has made a decision to evacuate some 800 households in apartment buildings it owns because of safety concerns following the devastating fire that killed 79 people in a west London high-rise. London police are trying to determine whether recent refurbishments to the building's exterior contributed to the spread of the blaze, which has left 79 people missing and presumed dead.

Authorities in London evacuated roughly 650 apartments in a high-rise complex overnight, citing fears that the complex bore numerous safety issues that Grenfell Tower did.

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

Residents will be allowed in at the weekend to collect more possessions under escort from the fire brigade.

Scores of people have refused to be evacuated from a north-west London apartment complex identified as a fire hazard, despite the insistence of emergency services that the safety of residents can not be guaranteed.

Until now, public attention has been focused on external cladding material that is widely used to provide insulation and enhance the appearance of buildings. Some said they learned about the evacuation on television news before officials came knocking on doors. "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".

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Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the inflatable beds at the gym and went back to his Taplow apartment to sleep there overnight.

The Liberal Democrats demanded the Government declare a civil emergency, create a fund to compensate those evacuated and guarantee anyone told to leave their properties they won't have to pay council tax until they return.

Six emails sent by and to an Arconic Inc (ARNC.N) sales manager raise questions about why the company supplied combustible cladding to a distributor for use at Grenfell Tower, despite publicly warning such panels were a fire risk for tall buildings.

"We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards", Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters. McCormack said the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer had not been subject to any product recalls.

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

Hotpoint said Friday that "words can not express our sorrow at this bad tragedy" and added it was working with authorities to examine the appliance.

A New York Times investigation pointed to the failure of a business-friendly government, under pressure to allow builders to use cheaper, flammable material that is forbidden in the USA despite its risks.

Prime Minister Theresa May said "necessary" steps will be taken to find people accommodation, a BBC report said.

UK fire safety crisis expands; Hundreds evacuated in London