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.


London heatwave leads to firefighters’ busiest day since WW2

Sixteen firefighters were injured fighting fires in the capital in the busiest day for London’s Fire Bridgade (LFB) since World War 2, 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.

“On a normal day the fire service receives - roughly speaking - 350 calls, and on a busy day 500 calls,” he added.

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

Mr Smith added that, although the weather is now cooler, the ground is “still absolutely tinder-box dry” and he warned people not to have barbecues in parks or discard glass on the ground where it could catch fire if hit by the sun’s rays.

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 08:16

Lincolnshire fire service stands down major incident status

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service said it had stood down its major incident status after what it described as “searing” conditions on Tuesday.

The service said in a social media post: “We have now stood down from major incident status, and whilst we still have crews at some incidents this morning, we have returned to business as usual.

“With conditions remaining dry for some time, we’re appealing to our communities to remain vigilant.

“Please follow the advice we have given especially around outdoor fires - avoiding the use of campfires and barbeques unless they’re on a designated hardstanding area, and being especially careful to dispose of cigarettes and glass properly.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 08:24

Images capture the smouldering ruins of houses and surrounding landscape after a series of grass fires broke out in Wennington, England amid an intense heatwave.

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 08:37

Tory leadership candidates ‘not talking about climate change’, says London mayor

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is “angry” that the Tory leadership candidates are not prioritising tackling climate change despite the heatwave demonstrating the consequences.

He told Sky News: “One of the things that really makes me angry is that, what we’ve seen in the last few days, this extreme weather, this heatwave.

“At the same time there’s a leadership contest to choose the next prime minister, and no-one’s talking about the elephant in the room, which is climate change causing the heatwave where temperatures are exceeding 40C.

“We’ve got a situation where we have heatwaves every two or three years rather than every 10 or 15 years.

“What we should be doing is dealing with the consequences of climate change and air quality, but also dealing with the causes as well.

“What we’re doing in London is dealing with the causes of climate change and air quality by having policies that reduce carbon emissions, reduce particulate matter - like the Ultra Low Emission Zone - planting record numbers of trees, having water fountains across our cities, air-conditioned new trains, but what we need is support from the government as well, because we can’t do it alone.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 08:50

Khan urges Londoners to avoid barbecues and jumping into water

Londoners have been urged not to have barbecues on Wednesday despite temperatures dropping, because the grass is still dry and will allow fire to spread rapidly if it catches alight.

The capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, told Sky News: “These are exceptional times and, because of the ease with which grass is catching fire and the speed at which it spreads, we are advising people not to have barbecues - not to have barbecues on your balcony, parks, or in your private garden for today.

“None of us wants to be a party pooper, but how would you feel if you had a barbecue in your back garden, and some of the grass, which is like hay, caught fire and it spread, damaged your property and spread to your neighbours?

“Our firefighters are working incredibly hard, they were the heroes yesterday, and they need some respite as well.

“A very simple thing we can do is just another day without a barbecue, and please also, if you’re near water, don’t be tempted to jump in, whether it’s the Thames, whether it’s a canal, or whether it’s other forms of water.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 09:03

Latest from the Met Office:

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 09:17

Aerial shots capture devastation in Wennington, east London

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 09:30

Protestors scale motorway signs in response to ‘inadequate’ heatwave prepartion

Just Stop Oil activists are scaling motorway signs on the M25 in response to the extreme temperatures in the UK and the government’s “inadequate preparations” for climate change.

PA adds:

One group of activists at junction 10 eastbound near Cobham, Surrey, on Wednesday morning said they will climb the gantries that support overhead motorway information signs.

The environmental protest group said more members are on their way, as part of planned action between Wednesday and Friday.

A spokesperson from Just Stop Oil said: “The main thing is, we’ve just seen 40-degree temperatures, which have been predicted for decades, maybe it’s happening a bit faster, but it has just revealed how inadequate the Government’s preparations for climate change are and their entire policy, and basically, we’re just saying, it’s evident now we cannot continue.”

The group demands the government make a “meaningful statement” that they will commit to stop licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK, which they say is “the necessary first step to ensuring a liveable future.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 09:41

Heatwave travel chaos continues

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 09:54

Police ‘dealing with’ Just Stop Oil protest on M25

Surrey Police said officers were dealing with the Just Stop Oil protest on the M25.

A statement said: “We’re dealing with a protest on the M25 just past junction 10 of the anti-clockwise carriageway this morning. Three lanes are currently closed.

“We will keep you informed of further updates. In the meantime please avoid the area.”

According to he National Highways website, the action has caused nine-mile tailbacks on the M25 anti-clockwise, leading to warnings of delays of more than an hour.

Here’s what the protesters have to say:

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 10:07

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in