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.
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.
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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