A series of wildfires have destroyed homes and land as the country grapples with extreme temperatures.
A number of major incidents were reported by fire crews as the blaze was tackled in a 40C-plus heat wave.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was the busiest day for London’s fire brigade since the Second World War – more than 2,600 calls were received on Tuesday, seven times the normal number. Khan told Sky News that a total of 41 properties were destroyed in the fire in the capital.
Experts have warned that Britain needs to figure out how to deal with wildfires, with the number this year set to double in 2021, according to The Times.
In the year As of Tuesday, there were 420 fires in England and Wales, according to the National Council of Fire Chiefs, up from 247 in all of 2021 and 200 before that.
Will the UK face more wildfires?
Conditions were “ripe” for wildfires, with temperatures reaching a high of 40.3C, ITV said.
Dr Thomas Smith, assistant professor of environmental geography at the London School of Economics, told the broadcaster: “The fire was extremely severe, with very low temperatures and very low relative humidity. A very long letter without rain. This can lead to high fire behavior with high speed fires (larger flames), making it more difficult to fight.
As the climate continues to warm, experts have warned that the high temperatures we saw earlier this week could increase the risk of fires like those seen in East London’s Wennington, where houses are located near plantations.
Dr Rory Hadden, senior lecturer in fire investigation at the University of Edinburgh, said these types of fires are known as “Wildfire Urban Interface fires”. “Often the biggest bushfires in the UK are confined to remote areas such as heath and moorland,” Dr Hadden said.
“Recent weather shows that as the climate changes, the UK will be more vulnerable to these types of fires, which can cause significant damage to buildings, communities, wildlife and the safety of life,” he said.
What can we do to prevent wildfires?
Scientists and experts in the UK are “using engineering and ecological techniques to help plan for and reduce the impact of wildfires,” ITV said. However, Dr Hadin warned the broadcaster: “We also need to recognize that individual actions will ultimately be key to controlling the risks posed by these fires.”
Indeed, we may begin to look at countermeasures in other countries, The Times said. These include “training volunteers and hobbyist groups on how to deal with wildfires” or, as in California, requiring people to “create buffer zones around their homes free of debris and vegetation to stop the spread of fires.”
Single-use barbecues and glass bottles are “among the main causes of thousands of grass and open ground fires across the UK this summer,” reports the Daily Mirror. Environmental charity King Britain TD has called for a ban on barbecues to reduce the risk of wildfires, while portable fires and cigarette butts “contribute to wildfires in arid areas”, the paper warned.
Long-term, “replanting and restoring naturally waterlogged land can help reduce fire risk.” Also: “Stopping the practice of burning heather on wetlands – done to increase shoot numbers – will reduce risk.”