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Chalcots estate tower is evacuated twice in three hours as fire brigade called to “burning smell”

The high-rise block is covered in flammable cladding and was evacuated for much of July

09 September, 2017 — By William McLennan

A TOWER block on the Chalcots estate was twice evacuated today (Saturday) as the fire brigade were called to reports of a burning smell.

Several floors of the high-rise block in Adelaide Road were told to leave their home on two separate occasions, leading some residents to describe the situation as “chaotic”.

The brigade were first called at around midday and the upper four floors were evacuated, but residents were told they could return when the crews found no sign of smoke.

At around 3pm the brigade arrived at the block again, with ten floors being evacuated, and this time discovered that a faulty lift was the cause of the burning smell. All residents have now returned to their homes.

The tower, along with four others in Adelaide Road, are covered in flammable cladding, similar to that installed at Grenfell Tower.

In light of this, four of the blocks were evacuated for much of July while urgent internal safety works were carried to reduce the likelihood of flames ripping through the building in the event of a fire.

The block was temporarily evacuated over another false alarm on July 28, shortly after people had returned to their homes after the emergency works.

Mandy Ryan, who lives on the top floor, said of the double evacuation today: “It was absolute chaos. I think this is going to keep happening. The fire brigade say we should stay in our flat, but then the wardens are telling us to leave. It’s conflicting. We need proper advice from the fire brigade.”

Diane McCarogher, who has recently returned from hospital where she was treated for pneumonia, lives on a lower floor and did not have to be evacuated today, but said the experience had been “stressful”.

She said: “Nobody knew what was going on. If it was a false alarm [the first time], why were five fire engines outside for another six hours? Why did they not go and tell residents that there was no cause for concern if that was the case? We could see people milling around outside but nobody knew anything.”

She added: “Is this going to happen every time someone smokes on a landing?”

Council leader Georgia Gould, who was at the scene during the second evacuation, said: “I was with Dorney residents this afternoon and people were understandably feeling concerned. We are taking every precaution to keep people safe and I am grateful for the swift response of the fire wardens and the London Fire Brigade.”

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said they were called to reports of the “smell of burning” and inspected every floor but found no fire. It was discovered the smell was coming from a faulty motor in one of the tower’s lifts, which is currently being replaced.

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