Around 4,000 residents in the Chalcots Estate in Camden, London were evacuated at around 6:30 p.m. Friday amid fire safety fears following the Grenfell Tower inferno. After investigations were run, fire officers had said they could not guarantee the safety of residents in those buildings, leading to the mass evacuation. According to the Evening Standard, the thousands of residents who were evacuated included families with newborn babies and young children and an elderly World War II veteran, whose lives are now in chaos over the sudden move.

Four tower blocks evacuated over fears of fire safety

Four high-rise apartment blocks on the Chalcots Estate are believed to be insulated with a similar cladding to that was used during the refurbishing of Grenfell Tower, located five miles away. The cladding is believed to have caused the fire to spread through the building at a very fast rate, leading to the deaths of at least 79 residents on June 14. After the tragic incident, the U.K. government launched a safety operation nationwide, due to fears that many similar residential apartment blocks could have the same cladding. It was discovered that around 600 buildings were affected. As reported by the BBC, several buildings in Chalcots Estate were refurbished by Rydon, the same firm responsible for the work performed at Grenfell Tower between 2006 and 2009.

While authorities had already planned on stripping the cladding from the tower blocks on Chalcots Estate, the mass evacuation was ordered after the discovery of problems with gas pipe insulation in the buildings.

Residents of Chalcots Estate may have to wait three to four weeks to return home

According to the Camden Council, it could be three or four weeks before the evacuated residents can return home.

Many residents are now being housed in two relief centers in the area, while others have been given accommodation in various areas of London.

The Standard quotes 42-year-old Zega Ghebre as saying the whole situation was “unbelievable,” while she waited for a minibus to take her family of three children, including a toddler, to a hotel.

Ghebre said they didn’t pack anything, as they didn’t initially know where they were being taken, but she hopes they will be allowed to go back to collect necessary items. She went on to say they had been offered hotel accommodation in Wembley in London, but said if they are there for weeks, she is not sure how they are going to handle the situation.

The World War II veteran, Peter Bertram, 94, said he has lived in the Chalcots Estate for the last 46 years and was “shocked” by the sudden evacuation. Bertram said it was such a rush and he didn’t know what was going on, adding that he doesn’t have the energy for this right now.

The BBC quoted Edward Strange, one of the Chalcots Estate residents, who deemed the evacuation an “overreaction.” He said the apartment block had been affected by two fires in the past, which had been easily contained.

Strange added that he has a wife, a daughter, and a cat, but he also has a job, which would make his life difficult if they have to wait four to six weeks to return home.

The evacuation initially affected five tower blocks in the Chalcots Estate, but one tower was later deemed to be safe and residents were told they could return home.