London Fire Brigade had busiest day since the Blitz tackling fires

Wildfires ripped through homes in bone-dry conditions (Image: LNP/PA/Getty Images)

Yesterday was described as the busiest day for London firefighters since the Second World War after the worst wildfire destroyed homes.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said 41 properties were destroyed in Britain’s worst heat wave.

On a typical day, London Fire Brigade says it receives 350 calls a day and on a busy day around 500.

But yesterday the service received more than 2,600 calls – to put yesterday’s chaos into perspective.

The London fires were so bad and frequent that the London Fire Brigade declared a ‘major incident’.

As the temperature in the United Kingdom exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, 16 firefighters were injured in a fire in the capital, two of whom were hospitalized.

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Firefighters were at the scene in the east London village of Wengington (Image: PA)

The London Fire Brigade said 16 firefighters were injured in yesterday’s chaos.

Chard houses left in Wennington Village, 20 July 2022.  The heat that destroyed houses in East London village ???worst nightmare???  event.  Dramatic footage shows a huge fire raging through homes in the suburb of Wennington on the outskirts of the capital as the town scorched in 40C temperatures.  The city's heat has fueled a series of fires, putting firefighters under heavy pressure and prompting authorities to declare a major emergency in the city.

People’s homes were completely destroyed in Wennington (Image: SWNS)

WENNINGTON, GREATER LONDON - JULY 19: Fire destroyed buildings on July 19, 2022 in Wennington, England.  A series of grass fires have broken out around the British capital amid a severe heatwave.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

The fires were so bad London’s fire brigade declared a ‘major incident’ (Image: Getty Images)

As London grapples with record-breaking temperatures, the mercury has topped 40°C for the first time on record (Image: PA)

Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mr Khan said it was important to ‘recognise’ that yesterday’s fires were ‘one of the consequences of climate change’.

He added: “The challenge in London is we’ve got lots of grass, lots of green space, but most of it is on property.

Wind-driven fires can start quickly and spread quickly when the grass is incredibly dry when it hasn’t rained for a long time.

The good news is that today’s fire service provides excellent service. Today, the first fire engine arrives in six minutes, the second engine in eight.

It was taking 20 minutes yesterday due to the pressure on the fire brigade.’

London Fire Brigade (LFB) Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith told Times Radio: “Yesterday afternoon we declared a major incident in London because we were getting so many calls.

I think since 8pm yesterday we’ve taken somewhere in the range of 2,600 emergency calls and responded to over 1,000 fire calls, most of which are related to the heat wave we’re experiencing.

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There was a fire in the Wennington houses

A series of houses quickly set ablaze in Wennington (Image: Sky News)

A fire broke out in Dagenham.

Black smoke rises from a grass fire in Dagenham (Image: Reuters)

A fire broke out in Upminster

A grass fire has broken out in a field near the M25 in Upminster, east London.

The conditions our firefighters were working in were unprecedented – working in 40°C heat, hauling huge amounts of hose across fields, making sure we were saving people where we needed them.

’16 firefighters suffered heat-related injuries, two of whom were hospitalized, but I’m happy to say they have now been released.’

Mr Smith added that although the weather was now cold the ground was still completely dry.

He warned people not to have barbecues in parks or throw glass on the ground that could catch fire if hit by the sun’s rays.

Met Office Chief Scientist Professor Stephen Belcher said this week that it was “almost impossible” for the UK to reach 40°C in an unbroken climate.

“But climate change driven by greenhouse gases has made these extreme temperatures possible, and we’re seeing that possibility now,” he added.

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