As it happenedended1658329845

UK weather news – live: Heatwave fires ‘like the Blitz’ as dozens of homes destroyed

Around 19 houses were destroyed after fires tore through rows of houses in Wennington

Liam James,Stuti Mishra,Emily Atkinson
Wednesday 20 July 2022 16:10 BST
UK heatwave: Dartford wildfire reaches motorway as temperatures hit record high

The scene at a smouldering village on the outskirts of London, which saw some of yesterday’s most devastating fires, has been described by a resident as being “like the Blitz”.

Around 19 houses were destroyed after fires first seen in back gardens rapidly tore through rows of houses in Wennington.

Resident Tim Stock, who lost his family home of 60 years in the blaze, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It was like a warzone. Down the actual main road, all the windows had exploded out, all the rooves had caved, it was like a scene from the Blitz really.”

It comes as some 41 properties including homes and warehouses have been destroyed in the capital as Tuesday’s heatwave saw the busiest day for London’s Fire Brigade (LFB) since the Second World War, according to Sadiq Khan.

Operating in 40C heat on Tuesday, firefighters took an estimated 2,600 emergency calls and responded to over 1,000 fire calls, the London mayor told Sky News.

Of the 16 firefighters who suffered “heat-related injuries”, two were hospitalised, LFB assistant commissioner Jonathan Smith said. Both have since been released.


Body of missing 14-year-old swimmer found in River Thames

Police have found the body of a 14-year-old boy who drowned while swimming in the River Thames.

The teenager is believed to have got into difficulty after entering the water at Tagg’s Island in Richmond, west London, on Monday during the UK’s record-breaking heatwave.

The Metropolitan Police first received reports of the incident at 4.43pm on Monday and officers headed to the scene along with paramedics and firefighters.

The three emergency services began a search with members of the public for the boy but called it off at 6.40pm without finding him.

Later in the evening police announced the boy was presumed to have drowned.

Another search was launched and the boy’s body was recovered from the river around 3.30pm on Tuesday.

Body of missing 14-year-old swimmer found in River Thames

Search for teen lasted almost a day before body recovered

Liam James20 July 2022 04:00

Fires still burning across UK after temperatures hit 40C

Fires are continuing to ravage through houses and buildings across the UK after temperatures topped 40C in the UK for the first time ever.

A total of six sites, mostly in Greater London, saw temperatures reach or exceed 40C.

Scotland experienced its hottest day on record, with the temperature reaching 34.8C in Charterhall in the Scottish Borders, Met Office provisional figures showed.

Amid the sweltering heat, two “large-scale” incidents took place in Upminster and the village of Wennington, east London, where black smoke billowed into the air, while flames destroyed buildings and ravaged nearby fields.

Several other significant incidents also occurred in the capital, with people urged not to have barbecues or bonfires due to the “unprecedented” challenges crews face.

Read more:

Fires still burning across UK after temperatures hit 40C on hottest ever day

A new record for the hottest day ever seen, of 40.3C, was provisionally recorded in Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, on Tuesday afternoon.

Stuti Mishra20 July 2022 04:56

At least 10 people die in open water during UK’s searing heatwave

At least 10 people have died after getting into difficulty in water during the unprecedented heatwave currently gripping the UK.

A boy aged just 13 was the youngest person to lose his life in recent days and one charity warned that the toll may climb as schools break up for the summer holidays.

With temperatures hitting 40C in England for the first time in history on Tuesday, the Met Office had also put in place its first “red” alert for heat. It warned of “significantly more people visiting coastal areas, lakes and rivers, leading to an increased risk of water safety incidents”.

Read more:

At least 10 people have died in open water during UK’s searing heatwave

Four teenagers among those to have drowned in bodies of water in recent days

Stuti Mishra20 July 2022 05:15

How heatwave is exposing scale of leadership vacuum on climate

Across Western Europe the newspaper front pages are all varying shades of red and yellow – the colours of the wildfire flames and weather-maps brought by a brutal, record-setting heatwave which is estimated to kill thousands of people, writes Harry Cockburn.

For decades, climate scientists have warned that rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel usage would mean more frequent and more ferocious heatwaves.

Yet emissions are still rising, and not one country has a coherent plan in place to rapidly wind down the pollution and divert us from the suicidal path we are being dragged down.

Read more:

Mass deaths and wildfires: Heatwave exposes scale of leadership vacuum on climate

Governments failing to take on ‘existential issue’ as frustration and fear grow, say experts

Stuti Mishra20 July 2022 05:34

Temperatures drop by over 10C as Met warns of heavy showers

A showery breakdown of the heat will take place today as temperatures are set to plummet over 10C with the Met office putting a yellow warning for thunderstorms in place for parts of south east, east and central England in the afternoon and evening.

It warns people to expect flooding or lightning strikes, delays and some cancellations to train and bus services, spray and sudden flooding, road closures and possible power cuts.

It will be fresher for most places, although some parts of East Anglia will still see temperatures reach as high as 30C.

The Met says today’s rain, where it occurs, will be much heavier than yesterday.

The latest satellite and radar imagery, tweeted by the Met, shows where rain pushed through last evening, with some lightning too.

Stuti Mishra20 July 2022 06:26

Dramatic lightning strikes pictured as thunderstorms hit several parts

Dramatic images of lightning strikes were captured as showers and thunderstorms hit several parts of the UK last night after the hottest day ever recorded in the country’s history.

Photographer James Bell shared the photos of the lightning spotted in the night sky from Elmley, Kent.

The Met office has announced a yellow alert for thunderstorms today in parts of southeast, east and central England in the afternoon and evening.

Stuti Mishra20 July 2022 06:56

Apocalyptic scenes of homes going up in flames dominate UK’s front pages

Britain’s record temperature of 40.3 which caused a huge surge in fires on Tuesday remains on the front pages of all leading newspapers with dire warnings of what’s to come as planet heats.

“The day Britain burned,” declares The Independent’s front page today, featuring an image of homes completely alight. The paper adds that 22 wildfires broke out within the space of a few hours yesterday.

Climate scientists call the historic temperature reading a “wake-up call” in The Guardian’s splash which includes experts calculating that “close to 1,000 people are likely to die as a result of the current hot spell”.

Metro, The Sun, the Daily Mirror, and the i carry similar scenes of homes engulfed by flames, accompanied by the respective headlines: “Burning hot Britain”, “Hellfire”, “Britain’s burning” and “Tinderbox UK ignites at record 40.3°C.”

Check out more front pages here:

What the papers say – July 20

The front pages are dominated by apocalyptic scenes of homes going up in flames on ‘the day Britain burned’.

Stuti Mishra20 July 2022 07:15

‘Brutal’ heatwave a ‘game changer’ for fire services

“What the hell just happened?” asks a West Yorkshire Fire Service chief in the wake yesterday’s heatwave, who says that ferocious blazes akin to those in London shared widely in the media yesterday also “happened the length and breadth of England.”

Tuesday was a “game changer” for the fire service, DCFO Dave Walton tweets, adding: “It’s about demand for fire engines and firefighters far, far outstripping the numbers that any reasonable person would expect to available at any one time.

“It’s about a completely and fundamentally different operating environment where fires burn with such ferocity, and spread with such speed in suburban areas that you CAN’T STOP THEM.”

He continues: “Your Fire & Rescue Service staff are heroes - every one of them - but they can’t work miracles. Today was about climate change, the hottest UK day on record - EVER! If you don’t believe in climate change ask a firefighter who has been on duty in the last two days what they think about it.”

Read Mr Walton’s thread in full here:

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 07:39

Rail chaos continues as engineers race to repair damage after record heatwave

Commuters faced further chaos in the wake of the UK’s hottest ever day as Britain’s flagship rail line remains closed to and from London while engineers work to repair damage caused by extreme heat.

The East Coast main line, which links King’s Cross station in the capital with Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, was still closed south of Peterborough on Wednesday morning.

LNER, the leading train operator on the artery, said: “Due to urgent repairs to the railway between KingsCross and Peterborough, all lines are blocked.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has more:

Rail chaos continues as engineers race to repair damage after record heatwave

‘Due to urgent repairs to the railway, please do not travel to or from London Kings Cross today,’ says LNER

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 07:50

Government to ‘step in’ to help those affected by major fires

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has promised that the government will “step in” to help families hit by major blazes sparked by the extreme heat.

In particular, two “large-scale” incidents took place in Upminster and the village of Wennington, in east London on Tuesday as temperatures surged to record-breaking levels across the UK.

He did not say specifically what help the government might provide to those without insurance, whose homes or belongings were destroyed.

“The government will stand by people who need assistance,” he told Sky News.

“The government will be looking carefully at what we can do to make sure that everyone receives the support they need.

“And obviously, the first thing is to make sure that they have the support in the very immediate term - people may have lost all their belongings, their identity documents.

“I know our local councils will be stepping up to look after people who’ve been affected across the country by fires, but clearly central government stands ready as always to step in as needed.”


Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 08:00

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