‘Hundreds of fire doors’ were missing from tower blocks evacuated in Camden

More than 1,000 fire doors were missing from Camden tower blocks evacuated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Government has said.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid said that concerns over the use of flammable cladding was “not the whole story” behind the evacuation in north London and outlined a string of failures over insulation, breaches of internal walls and missing fire doors.

Thousands of residents living on the Chalcots Estate in north London were evacuated by Camden Council on Friday evening after firefighters said they could not guarantee the safety of the buildings.

Responding to concerns from MPs over fire safety in tower blocks, Mr Javid said on Monday “literally hundreds of fire doors were missing”.

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He told MPs: “When the commissioners went into those tower blocks in Camden, in their own words, they found multiple fire safety inspection failures, failures which frankly should not have happened in tower blocks of any type, certainly those tower blocks in Camden.

“For example there were problems with gas pipe insulation, there were stairways that were not accessible, there were breaches of internal walls and most astonishingly there were hundreds, literally hundreds, of fire doors missing.

“The estimate by Camden Council itself is they need at least 1,000 fire doors because they were missing from those five blocks.

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“So that had nothing to do with the cladding.

“Clearly something has gone wrong there, drastically wrong, but it’s an example when these issues need to be looked at very carefully this is happening in this day and age in our country.”

Local authorities and housing associations must act immediately to ensure public safety regardless of cost, as the Government will offer financial assistance, Mr Javid said.

Responding to a later question, he did not rule out the potential for further evacuations similar to that carried out by Camden.

He told MPs: “Thankfully there have been no other councils who have come forward, so far, with a need to have an evacuation and hopefully, there are many more tests to take place so I don’t want to pre-judge them, what’s happened at Camden will be a rare occurrence.”

Labour’s Karen Buck, of Westminster North, asked Mr Javid if he has the legal powers to require leaseholders to install fire doors.

Mr Javid replied: “Is it often the case, not exclusively, that many leaseholders have removed fire doors and clearly that’s not acceptable.

“I believe all legal powers are there and certainly one of the lessons from this tragedy, and certainly what we’ve seen in Camden so far, is to make sure we take a much greater interest in enforcement.”

Additional reporting by PA

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