German city evacuating high-rise found with flammable material

Credit AP  PETER BYRNE				Workers in Britain remove cladding from the Whitebeam Court residential high-rise in Pendleton Greater Manchester on Monday

Credit AP PETER BYRNE Workers in Britain remove cladding from the Whitebeam Court residential high-rise in Pendleton Greater Manchester on Monday

The government has also said the problem may not be exclusive to tall buildings or social housing, and announced it will carry out safety checks on all hospitals and a number of government buildings.

This group will oversee a review of building and fire safety regulatory frameworks with an initial focus on high rise domestic buildings, following the Grenfell Tower fire in London. At least 79 people have been declared dead in that incident.

Trafford Housing Trust (THT) - which manages seven tower blocks in the borough - pointed out last week that it uses different, non-flammable cladding to that used at Grenfell Tower. "Very clearly, these failures are concerning and this is why the Prime Minister said to Cabinet this morning we need to have this major national investigation", he noted.

She added that it was unclear if the insulation is similar to that used in the Grenfell cladding, which has been widely blamed for the rapid spread of the massive blaze on June 14.

Arconic, the United States supplier of the cladding installed in a refurbishment completed only past year, announced Monday that it was stopping sales of the material for high-rise buildings.

Insurers IF, who conducted tests with Lancashire Fire and Rescue in 2014, say in the real world they burned more fiercely than they did in testing laboratories.

"But now we have witnessed a catastrophic failure, on a scale many thought impossible in 21st-century Britain".

At the weekend, about 4,000 people from some 650 flats were evacuated in north London to allow for urgent fire safety work to be done on the buildings after inspectors determined the exterior cladding posed a fire risk.

The supplier of the material, a US-based firm called Arconic, said on Monday that it was stopping all sales of the material for tower apartment blocks. In addition to discovering of the sort of insulation material under scrutiny after the blaze in London, government officials also found that the building's escape routes were too close to the facade, making them useless in the event of a fire.

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