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FRIDAY, October 07, 2022
London Fire Brigade declares major incident as fires break out in record heat

London Fire Brigade declares major incident as fires break out in record heat

WEDNESDAY, July 20, 2022

London's firefighting authority declared a major incident in the British capital on Tuesday in response to the surge in fires amid a record-breaking heatwave in Britain and Europe.

The London Fire Brigade said it had deployed dozens of fire tenders to several blazes in and around the city, including 30 to a grass fire in east London. Television footage showed one blaze engulfing several homes in the village of Wennington to the east of the capital.

Britain recorded its highest ever temperature, breaking 40C (104F) for the first time, as a heatwave gripping Europe intensified, scorching fields and damaging airport runways and train tracks.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said the past 48 hours had taken its toll on the service with multiple fires breaking out across the capital.

Smith said what was once regarded a once in a generation incident is now becoming far more regular.

London mayor Sadiq Khan voiced concern over the long delays it took fire brigades to respond to some calls, with its typical response time of six minutes being pushed to more than 20 minutes for the first fire trucks to arrive at a scene due to high demand.

"It’s simply not possible for the London Fire Brigade to respond to all these fires if they continue at this pace," added Khan.

To the east of the capital, a large fire engulfed houses in the village of Wennington, some 18 miles (30km) east of the city centre with flames tearing across about 40 hectares (100 acres) of neighbouring tinder-dry fields.

"It was just completely surreal just how fast it went and how hot it was," local man John Bishop told the BBC, adding that some pets were still unaccounted for but he believed all his neighbours were well.

A huge cloud of smoke was seen rising over a major road outside London after Britain recorded its highest ever temperature.

Eyewitness video showed thick plumes of smoke rising over the A2 in Dartford, Kent. Earlier footage showed a fire burning on a nearby field.

Elsewhere large grassland areas around the city caught alight, billowing smoke over major roads and nearby areas.

The heatwave gripping Europe intensified on Tuesday, scorching fields, damaging runways and forcing train tracks to buckle under the pressure.