Hundreds of bewildered residents evacuated from fire trap Chalcots tower blocks
PUBLISHED: 23:08 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 08:35 24 June 2017
Residents are being evacuated from all five tower block on the Chalcots Estate in an emergency move tonight.
Chalcots evacuation in pictures
Chalcots Estate residents were urgently evacuated, although they may have been living in unsafe homes for years. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Residents leave the Taplow tower block Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Residents leave Chalcots Estate with pets Stefan Rousseau/PA
Residents leave a tower block on the Chalcots Estate as the building is evacuated Stefan Rousseau/PA
Residents were forced to leave their homes in Taplow and other buildings on 23 June Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
People arrive at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre and Library which has been set up as a rest centre Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Camden Council have decided to move people from more than 700 flats starting immediately to avert a disaster on the scale of the Grenfell Tower blaze.
The shock move comes after cladding used on the high rises failed safety tests and was discovered to be flammable.
All through yesterday and as tempers flared at a residents meeting last night called by Housing bosses the council had insisted no residents needed to be evacuated from the five blocks on Adelaide Road.
But in a dramatic u-turn they have decided everybody must be evacuated immediately.
The move came on the advice of London Fire Brigade.
The council said: “We are evacuating residents from all five blocks, starting immediately. If you have friends or family you can stay with tonight please do so. If you do arrange to do this but need longer term accommodation please come to Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre tomorrow and we will help you find accommodation at no cost
To ensure your safety we are door knocking the blocks one at a time.
The scene was chaos tonight as residents were swarming onto the streets with nowhere to go.
Resident Simon Happily said: “Camden have said if residents can find a hotel at a reasonable price, they will pick up the bill. But where are they now? People are making offers of spare rooms and I am collating a list. It is chaos.”
Others found out they had to leave their homes by listening to local radio reports.
The council said: “You will be able to get back into your block over the weekend to collect more of your possessions, however this will be under escort from the London Fire Brigade. In the meantime we recommend you pack a bag with enough items to last 2-4 weeks.
Councillor Georgia Gould, Leader of Camden Council, said:
“Today the London Fire Brigade completed a joint inspection of the blocks with Camden Council technical experts. Together we decided that the Taplow block needs to be temporarily decanted while we undertake urgent fire safety works so that residents can be fully assured of their safety. This means that we need to move residents from their homes and into temporary accommodation.
“We anticipate that these works will be completed within three to four weeks. 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.
“You will appreciate that this is an emerging situation and we will be providing regular updates.”