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Grenfell Tower evacuated twice since deadly blaze sparking major concerns over possible collapse

Residents of nearby Lancaster West estate say their safety fears are not being listened to

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Thursday 06 July 2017 15:47 BST
Residents in surrounding flats say they have not been advised on what to do in the case of emergency
Residents in surrounding flats say they have not been advised on what to do in the case of emergency

Grenfell Tower has moved significantly three times since the deadly fire last month, twice forcing staff working inside to evacuate the building.

Alarms monitoring structural movement of the tower have been triggered on three separate occasions since being installed, after movement of more than five millimetres was detected.

Staff were withdrawn from inside the building “as a precaution” on two occasions, according to the Grenfell Response Team (GRT). No staff were on site when alarms sounded for a third time.

Scotland Yard said staff were temporarily stopped from working inside the tower while additional tests were carried out.

“Officers only stopped people working inside the tower, and no one was asked to leave their property because of this," a spokesperson said. "Now those tests have been completed, work has re-started inside Grenfell Tower."

Dr Colin Davie, senior lecturer in civil engineering at University of Newcastle, told The Independent movement was obviously “a concern” if authorities were monitoring it so closely.

“They are being very conservative if they are getting people out at that little movement," he said. "They are doing the right thing by looking after the people working inside a damaged building."

But residents were furious that workers were being evacuated while they were kept in the dark.

Joe Delaney, a resident of the nearby Lancaster West estate, said there were major concerns among residents and the surrounding community over the structural integrity of the building.

“We've been told anecdotally that the side of the tower facing Latimer Road station is due to partially collapse, but we have been told nothing at all,” he told The Independent.

“There’s no one to reassure anyone about anything. The only catastrophe they are trying to manage is a PR one. We haven’t even had a fire drill and have no alarms.”

He said the only safety information circulated by GRT to residents was a “press release” that gave them absolutely no reassurances.

An on-site alarm system is now attached to the core of the building but previously an air horn was being used to alert people within the tower to structural movement.

A GRT spokesperson said: “We appreciate the concern this may have caused and following a review of procedures today, the air horn will not be used again.”

Separately, a number of businesses that back on to the tower were evacuated, further adding to the confusion.

Offices in Baseline Studios were closed by London Fire Brigade (LFB) due to their fire exits being blocked by ongoing work at the tower.

But Mr Delaney, who is currently staying in a hotel, said fire exits used by residents living above the businesses were also blocked.

“That exit has been sealed off since the night of the fire, so I don't see what the issue was there. Our fire exits are just as blocked and no residents were evacuated," he said.

A LFB spokesperson said: “A number of retail units which are very close to the Grenfell Tower cordon were evacuated today due to concerns about their fire exits being blocked because they back on to the investigation site. This was not because the tower was unstable but it was to ensure that people could leave safely in the event of a fire.

“The Brigade is on site to explore how to ensure the fire exits can be accessed in a way which would allow the retail units to go back into use.”

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