BERLIN — An apartment building in a northwestern German city was evacuated Tuesday because of fears that its exterior insulation is similar to materials that allowed the deadly fire that torched London’s Grenfell Tower to spread.
The 11-story building is located in Wuppertal. 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.
“In principle, the building is a trap,” said Jochen Braun, head of Wuppertal’s construction and housing department. “After we saw what happened in London, we reassessed the situation.”
The evacuation came as cities across Europe examine fire safety, prompted by the incineration two weeks ago of the 24-story tower in London. At least 79 people have been declared dead in that incident. In the aftermath of the inferno, tests of exterior cladding on dozens of other public housing complexes have yielded a 100 percent failure rate.
The 73 residents of the building in Wuppertal were either asked to stay with friends and relatives or were given access to furnished apartments, of which there is a glut, Braun said, because of preparations for refugee resettlement. The evacuees were also given food packages.
Authorities have asked the owner of the building to remove the facade and take other measures to eliminate the fire hazard. German media reported that at least 70 other buildings would be tested in Wuppertal alone.
One resident told local TV broadcaster WDR: “Perhaps something will finally happen now. Usually there’s just talk and no action.”