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
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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.

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M25 blocked as climate protesters declare it ‘site of civil resistance’ after hottest day in history

Climate protest group Just Stop Oil has halted traffic on the M25 this morning, declaring the London Orbital motorway a “site of civil resistance” following record breaking temperatures on Tuesday.

The group has said it is aiming to block the motorway from Wednesday until Friday, demanding the UK government immediately ends licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

Our environment correspondent Harry Cockburn has this breaking story:

M25 blocked as climate protesters declare it ‘site of civil resistance’

Climate protest group Just Stop Oil has halted traffic on the M25 this morning, declaring the London Orbital motorway a "site of civil resistance" following record breaking temperatures on Tuesday.

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 10:12
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Heatwave: Fire crews still battling blazes after ‘busiest day since World War Two’

A number of fire services declared major incidents on Tuesday as the number of blazes and demand surged during the heatwave.

Blazes destroyed houses and wildfires burned acres of land across the country on what has been called London Fire Brigade’s busiest day since the Second World War.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Heatwave: Fire crews still battling blazes after ‘busiest day since World War Two’

More than 40 homes destroyed in London, city’s mayor says

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 10:27
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Highways England have tweeted a travel alert regarding delays on the M25 sparked by Just Stop Oil protestors.

It said: “There are delays of over an hour on the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey due to an ongoing Surrey Police led incident within J10 (for A3, Guildford). 3 lanes (of 4) are currently closed.

“If this incident impacts on your planned route, please allow extra journey time as there is over nine miles of congestion on approach. Plan ahead, you may wish to re-route or even delay your journey.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 10:35
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Three quarters worried about climate crisis with concern 40C heatwave is ‘serious health issue’

Three-quarters of people in Britain are worried about the worsening climate crisis and want more government action to tackle it, a poll has found, as the country sweltered in 40C temperatures that fuelled fires across the country.

The survey by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, which supports informed debate on energy and climate change in the UK, found 70 per cent of the public agreed that climate change was a driver of the recent heatwave, with only 17 per cent saying they didn’t believe it was a factor.

The Independent’s climate correspondent Saphora Smith has more:

Three quarters worried about climate crisis amid record 40C temperatures

Seventy-percent of the public said they agreed climate change was a driver of the unprecedented heatwave

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 10:48
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Cambridge University Botanic Garden announces new record temperature

Cambridge University Botanic Garden has recorded its peak temperature for Tuesday as 39.9C - higher than the previous UK heat record of 38.7C set there in 2019 - but lower than the current provisional record of 40.3C set in Coningsby, Lincolnshire yesterday.

The attraction said in a tweet that the 39.9C high was reached at 2.02pm yesterday.

Speaking after readings for the previous 24-hour period were taken, at 10am on Wednesday, the attraction’s director, Prof Beverley Glover, said: “We are dismayed by the high temperatures recorded and incredibly concerned at the implications for plants, people and the planet.

“This acts as a severe reminder that we all need to be taking climate change and its impact very seriously.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 11:01
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More women ‘could die’ in UK heatwave than men, expert warns

More women could die in the UK heatwave than men due to being “more vulnerable” to hot temperatures, an expert has said.

The UK recorded its hottest temperature in history before midday on Tuesday - with temperatures climbing to over 40C (104F).

Mike Tipson, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology at the Extreme Environments Laboratories, told The Independent women appear to be more at risk in heatwaves for both physiological and sociological reasons.

Our women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim reports:

More women ‘could die’ in UK heatwave than men, expert warns

‘They will be under more physiological strain. This puts strain on their heart and circulation,’ says expert

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 11:19
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Fire service ‘stretched to limit'

The fire service was “stretched to the limit” in its reponse to the incidents sparked by extreme temperatures, which a trade union has blamed on major government cuts jobs.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said its resources have been “under attack by government cuts for over a decade”, adding that 11,500 firefighter jobs have been slashed since 2010.

Firefighters have been asked to give up leave to assist because of staff shortages and there have been a number of injuries to FBU members over the past two days, including hospital admissions, the union added.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have warned of the growing threat for years but our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. The brutal truth is that government ministers and chief fire officers have ignored the warning signs which have been obvious for all to see.

“The stark reality is that frontline firefighters and local communities have been let down by a combined failure of chief fire officers and politicians to face up to the scale of the challenge. It is simply untrue to say they have not been warned year after year of the risks posed by climate change.

“The same people then tell frontline firefighters to tighten their belts and accept a cut in their pay.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 11:35
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Johnson thanks ‘tremendous efforts’ of fire service

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 11:59
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Addressing the House of Commons, Sir Keir Starmer offered his thanks to the fire service and extended the party’s thoughts to those affected by Tuesday’s fires, including those who have lost their homes.

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 12:10
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Wennington fires ‘like a scene from the Blitz, says resident

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, said: “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’s heartbreaking really. I mean, I’ve been there 41 years but my granddad was there before me, so we’ve been there 60-odd years,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“And to see it all fall apart yesterday, it’s really sad. But as I said, we’ll get the site cleared, fit up a kind of mobile home there, and we’ll start again.”

Emily Atkinson20 July 2022 12:30

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