People have been evacuated from five tower blocks in north London, to allow “urgent fire safety works” to take place in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze.
Camden Council said on Friday evening that the residents from 800 flats - potentially thousands of people - in the Chalcots Estate’s high rises would leave in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire, which killed at least 79 people last week.
The council had previously announced it would remove cladding from these high rises, having established it was flammable, similar to the sort that burned the Grenfell Tower.
The evacuation began immediately and people arrived on the ground to start to get people out.
Amid initial confusion about whether the evacuation was compulsory, residents unsure of where they would end up were sent to nearby Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, where many blow-up beds were laid out.
It was unclear where all those due to be evacuated would be able to stay. The council said it would arrange temporary accommodation and had block-booked hotels.
There was confusion on the ground as to whether the evacuation was compulsory or a “recommendation”.
Camden Council initially announced only one block with 161 homes would be evacuated but this was quickly updated to all five high rises on the estate.
“The Grenfell fire changes everything – we need to do everything we can to keep residents safe,” council leader Georgia Gould said, as she announced the evacuation.
“We realise that this is hugely distressing for everyone affected and we will be doing all we can.”
She said the decision was taken after a joint safety inspection by London Fire Brigade and the council.
She said: “Camden Council is absolutely determined to ensure that our residents are safe and we have promised them that we will work with them, continue to act swiftly and be open and transparent.”
Speaking from the council offices, she said around 800 homes would be evacuated but said it was still “an emerging picture”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Following advice from fire prevention experts at the London Fire Brigade, it has been decided that the best way to keep residents safe is to relocate them tonight, as a precautionary measure.
“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.”
Theresa May tweeted that her “thoughts are with residents being evacuated”.
London Fire Brigade said: “The Brigade advised that there were a number of fire safety issues in the buildings and recommended that residents should not remain in the buildings until these issues are resolved.”
After it was announced the cladding would be replaced on the five high rises on the Chalcots estate on Thursday, residents told HuffPost UK they were too afraid to sleep there.
Samuel Mensah who lives on the 16th floor of the Burnham Tower said it was is “very scary”.
“When I’m inside I’m not comfortable after what happened with those poor people at Grenfell.”
“When the panels are off, then I’ll feel safe. It’s scary. I can’t sleep.”