Ten fire engines and 72 firefighters are battling a blaze at a block of flats on Turin Street in Bethal Green, east London, according to the London Fire Brigade.
A flat on the third floor and roof is alight, the fire service said in a statement. One man suffering from smoke inhalation has been hospitalized.
The London Fire Brigade received nearly 50 calls from members of the public about the fire at approximately 4:25pm local time.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Over 600 households were evacuated from tower blocks in Camden on Friday night over safety fears concerning cladding on the buildings similar to that on the Grenfell Tower. Scores of residents are refusing to leave their homes despite emergency services warning they cannot guarantee the safety of residents.
Some 27 apartment blocks in 15 council areas across England have failed fire cladding safety tests since the Grenfell disaster claimed the lives of at least 79 residents on June 14.
Britain’s fire-safety crisis expanded substantially Saturday as London officials scrambled to evacuate four massive public housing towers due to concerns about flammable external cladding, problematic fire doors and insulation around gas pipes.
Hundreds of residents hastily packed their bags and sought emergency shelter, with many angry and confused about the chaotic situation. Some refused to leave their high-rise apartments. Scores of evacuees slept on inflatable beds in a nearby gym while officials sought better accommodations for them.
Camden Council said it decided to evacuate buildings on the Chalcots Estate late Friday after fire inspectors reported that the blocks were “not safe for people to sleep in overnight.” Council leader Georgia Gould said fire inspectors uncovered problems with “gas insulation and door stops,” which, combined with the presence of flammable cladding encasing the high-rises, meant residents had to leave immediately.
The evacuation comes amid widening worries about the safety of high-rise apartment blocks across the entire country following the inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London on June 14, killing at least 79 people. Public attention has focused on the external cladding material blamed for the rapid spread of that blaze — but multiple other fire risks have now been identified in some housing blocks.
Britain said Saturday that cladding samples from 27 high-rise apartment blocks — from cities including London, Manchester, Plymouth and Portsmouth — have failed fire safety tests.
So far, Camden Council has been the only local authority to have asked residents to leave as a precaution. It said about 650 apartments were evacuated, though initial reports had said it affected as many as 800 apartments.
The council said residents would be out of their homes for three to four weeks while it completes fire-safety upgrades.
“I know some residents are angry and upset, but I want to be very clear that Camden Council acted to protect them,” Gould said in a statement. “Grenfell changed everything, and when told our blocks were unsafe to remain in, we acted.”
Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been criticized for her slow response to the Grenfell tragedy, said Saturday that the government was supporting Camden officials to ensure residents have somewhere to stay while building work is done.
In response, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said May needed to “get a grip” and lead a stronger response to what is now a “national threat.”
Residents — including families with babies and elderly relatives — trooped out of the buildings late Friday night with suitcases and plastic bags stuffed with clothes. Council workers guided dozens to a nearby gym, where they spent the night on inflatable mattresses. Others were being put up in hotels and other housing projects.
Many residents complained of a lack of information and confusion. Officials first announced the evacuation of one building, then expanded it to five, then later reduced it to four. Some residents said they learned about the evacuation on television news hours before officials came knocking on doors.
Renee Williams, 90, who has lived in Taplow Tower since 1968, told Britain’s Press Association: “No official came and told us what’s going on. I saw it on the TV, so I packed an overnight bag.
“It’s unbelievable. I understand that it’s for our safety but they can’t just ask us to evacuate with such short notice. There’s no organization and it’s chaos,” she said.
Carl McDowell, 31, said he took one look at the inflatable beds on the gym floor and went back to his Taplow apartment to sleep there overnight. Other residents were distraught that they were ordered to evacuate but were told to leave their pets behind in the now-dangerous buildings.
Fire-safety experts say the Grenfell Tower blaze, which police said was touched off by a fire at a refrigerator, was probably due to a string of failures, not just the cladding, which is widely used to provide insulation and enhance the appearance of buildings.
Police said Friday they are considering filing manslaughter charges in the Grenfell disaster and they were conducting a wide-ranging investigation that will look at everything that contributed to it.
The Metropolitan Police said cladding attached to the 24-story Grenfell public housing project during a recent renovation failed safety tests conducted by investigators.
“We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards,” Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack told reporters. “We are looking at all health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.”
The government has ordered an immediate examination of the refrigerator model that started the blaze. McCormack said the Hotpoint model FF175BP refrigerator-freezer had not been subject to any product recalls before the fire.
Hotpoint said it was working with authorities to examine the appliance, adding “words cannot express our sorrow at this terrible tragedy.”
The government has called on all building owners, public and private, to submit samples of their cladding material for testing.
Fears about cladding are not limited to apartment buildings. One hotel chain, Premier Inn, is calling in experts to make certain its properties meet safety regulations.
Police say 79 people are either confirmed or presumed dead in the Grenfell blaze, although that number may change. To encourage cooperation with authorities, May said the government won’t penalize any fire survivors who were in the country illegally.
In a well-planned heist in the early hours of Midsummer's Day, a gang of thieves stole a total of eleven cars from a car dealership in a Stockholm suburb.
The police were sent to a car trader in the north-west Stockholm suburb of Barkarby after a witness saw several cars being driven through the fence of the dealership in the early hours of Saturday morning, Aftonbladet reports.
One the police arrived on the scene, they found that eleven cars, including BMWs, Audis and Mercedes, had been stolen.
"It takes a certain degree of organisation and planning with eleven drivers. No-one has been arrested," police spokesperson Sven-Erik Olsson told Aftonbladet.
The eye witness captured the last of the cars on film as they were driven away from the scene.
"I was on my way home from a midsummer party when a car mowed down a fence by the Barkarby pizza restaurant. They waited for each other and then drove off at high speed," the witness told Aftonbladet.
The owner of the dealership told Aftonbladet he believed the thieves must have taken a key cabinet from inside the premises.
"They probably took the key cabinet with them. I still have nine cars left in the yard, which they probably have the keys for. This feels dreadful," the owner said.
Istanbul's governor has banned a gay and transgender pride march which was due to take place in the city on Sunday, citing security concerns after threats from an ultra-nationalist group.
It will be the second year running that Istanbul's LGBT march, described in the past as the biggest in the Muslim world, has been blocked by city authorities.
The ultra-nationalist Alperen Hearths group threatened last week to prevent the march if authorities did not act, and the governor's office said on Saturday that it took its decision out of concern for the security of marchers, tourists and residents.
March organisers said the ban was effectively legitimising what they called the hate crimes of groups like Alperen Hearths, and urged the governor to reverse the decision.
The governor's emphasis on public order and safety was an effort to distort the image of a planned peaceful march, they said in an online statement headlined: "We are Marching, Get Used to It. We are Here, Not Going Away".
The gay pride parade in Istanbul -- a city seen as a relative safe haven by members of the gay community from elsewhere in the Middle East, including refugees from Syria and Iraq -- has usually been a peaceful event.
While homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey unlike many other Muslim countries, homophobia remains widespread. Critics say President Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party have shown little interest in expanding rights for minorities, gays and women, and are intolerant of dissent.But two years ago police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse participants, after organisers said they had been refused permission because it coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.
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