ladding on other tower blocks is also “combustible”, Theresa May has admitted in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, raising questions over if they will be evacuated.
The Prime Minister disclosed that tests on other high-rise buildings following the west London blaze have found “a number” use the same flammable material blamed for speeding up the spread of the blaze that killed at least 79 people.
Cladding designed to improve the appearance of 1960s and 1970s blocks has been fitted to the exterior of many buildings, but it is unknown how many use the “combustible” material.
Mrs May said that local authorities and fire services concerned are taking “all possible steps” to ensure buildings are safe and residents have been informed. The Government will today be contacting MPs whose constituencies are affected.
However, the revelation will raise serious safety questions and put pressure on Mrs May about whether or not enough is being done to protect residents in blocks with “combustible” cladding.
Mrs May also disclosed that the Government is making its cladding checking facilities available to private landlords for free, raising the prospect that many more will be affected.
Mrs May was speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday morning, hours after the Chief Executive of Kensington and Chelsea council said he was forced to quit amid outrage over the authority’s response to the tragedy.
She told MPs: “The House should, of course, be careful on speculating what caused this fire. But, as a precaution, the Government has arranged to test cladding in all relevant tower blocks.
“Shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible.
“The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed, and, as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.”
Mrs May also said the tragedy will not be used to carry out immigration checks on those affected by the tragedy or on those providing “vital” information to identify victims or to assist the criminal investigation.
Mrs May, making a statement to the Commons, said “no stone will be left unturned” in the inquiry.
She also said: “For any guilty parties there will be nowhere to hide.”
Mrs May said she expects an interim report to be produced as “early as possible” by the chair of the inquiry.
She added: “I know many others living in tall residential buildings will have concerns about their safety after what happened at Grenfell.
“All social landlords have been instructed to carry out additional fire safety checks on tower blocks and ensure the appropriate safety and response measures are in place.”
She added: “We’ve also taken steps to make private landlords aware and make our checking facilities available to them for free.
Mrs May said that 79 people had been confirmed dead or listed as missing presumed dead and the death toll, which includes children and whole families, was likely to rise further.
Outlining the response to the tragedy, she said: “I would like to reassure people that we will not use this tragic incident as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those involved or on those providing information to identify victims or those assisting with the criminal investigation.
“We will make sure that all victims, irrespective of their immigration status, will be able to access the services they need including healthcare and accommodation.”
Mrs May told MPs that Kensington and Chelsea Council “could not cope” and said it was right for chief executive Nicholas Holgate to resign.
More than £700,000 has been paid out to victims so far, who will not have be expected to repay the cash, and a central command centre has been set up to control the response, with more than 600 people working to support victims in the area.