Firefighters faced their busiest day since the Second World War on Tuesday (19 July) as temperatures topped 40C in the UK for the first time ever.
Major incidents were declared in London, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire as fires broke out in numerous areas.
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.
Sixteen firefighters from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) were injured tackling blazes, with two admitted to hospital. They were later discharged.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan the LFB had experienced its busiest day on record, receiving more than 2,600 calls throughout the day – seven times the usual number.
What is Wednesday’s weather forecast?
Temperatures are set to drop by up to 10C in some areas on Wednesday, with heavy showers and thunderstorms to lash parts of the country, potentially causing localised flooding.
The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for thunderstorms 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.
UK heatwave - live updates
The Just Stop Oil protest caused nine-mile tailbacks on the M25 anti-clockwise, with the National Highways website warning of delays of more than an hour.
A travel alert 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 9 miles of congestion on approach. Plan ahead, you may wish to re-route or even delay your journey.”
Footage from a drone has showed the scale of destruction in Maltby and Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire, after wildfires yesterday (19 July).
Protesters climb M25 motorway signs in response to government’s ‘inadequate preparations’ for climate change
Protesters from Just Stop Oil are climbing motorway signs on the M25 and causing disruption in response to the extreme temperatures in the UK and what they describe as the Government’s “inadequate preparations” for climate change.
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
“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.”
The proximity of houses to vast green spaces in London contributed to 41 properties, including homes and warehouses, being destroyed by fires on Tuesday, according to Sadiq Khan.
The London Mayor speaking on Sky News
“A major factor in some of these properties being destroyed was their proximity to the grass.
“Many properties in London are next to grass and it’s similar to what we see in California and in the south of France in relation to fires next to densely populated areas.
“In this country the main fires of this scale we see are in the National Parks and the moors which don’t impinge on property.
“Unfortunately in London many properties are next to green spaces – which is a good thing the vast majority of the time.
“The downside is that in this exceptional weather, we have situations where fires can start easily and spread even faster.”
Sadiq Khan said that Tuesday was the busiest day for London Fire Brigade (LFB) since the Second World War, with the service experiencing more than seven times the usual volume of calls.
The London Mayor talking to Sky News
“Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the Second World War.
“On a normal day the fire service receives – roughly speaking – 350 calls, and on a busy day 500 calls.
“Yesterday they received more than 2,600 calls – more than a dozen simultaneous fires requiring 30 engines, a couple requiring 15, and some requiring 12.
“I’m afraid the bad news is 41 properties were destroyed in London.”
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service said it had stood down its major incident status after what it described as “searing” conditions on Tuesday.
Sixteen firefighters were injured fighting fires in the capital on the hottest day of the year, with two admitted to hospital, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB) assistant commissioner, Jonathan Smith.
Mr Smith speaking to Times Radio
“We declared a major incident pan-London at about 2pm yesterday afternoon, because we were receiving a significant number of calls.
“I think from 8am yesterday we took somewhere in the region of 2,600 emergency calls and responded to over 1,000 fire calls, the vast majority of which were related to the heatwave we were experiencing.
“The conditions that our firefighters were operating in were unprecedented – operating in 40C heat, needing to drag significant amount of hose across fields, making sure we were rescuing people where we needed to.
“We had 16 firefighters suffering from heat-related injuries, two of whom were hospitalised, but I’m pleased to say have now have been released from hospital.”
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.