The government estimates around 600 buildings in England have similar 'combustible' cladding used in Grenfell Tower

Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London.Victoria Jones / PA Wire / PA ImagesSmoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London.

LONDON — Hundreds of buildings in England have similar “combustible” cladding to that used on Grenfell Tower, which may have caused the fire that killed at least 79 people.

The prime minister’s spokesman told Business Insider in a briefing that the government believe that “600 buildings have similar cladding to Grenfell based on three positive samples.” This estimate comes from communications from councils.

The spokesman also warned that this figure of buildings affected could rise as more samples come in. Residents in affected buildings are being contacted “as a matter of urgency.”

This follows Prime Minister Theresa May telling MPs that “the government has arranged to test cladding in all relevant tower blocks,” and that she had just been “informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government wrote to all councils at the weekend asking for samples from buildings that had recently had cladding put in, and 600 “is our best estimate at the moment.”

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