London Fire Brigade have revealed they received five times the normal number of emergency 999 calls last night as high winds and heavy rain caused widespread disruption in the capital.
Areas such as Bromley, Orpington, Beckenham and Sidcup were the worst-hit areas of London, although there were no reports of any injuries.
“It has been an extremely busy night for our firefighters and 999 control staff. Between 8pm on Monday evening and 7am on Christmas Eve, London Fire Brigade received 853 calls," a London Fire Brigade spokesperson said.
"This compares with 159 calls for the same period 24 hours earlier – that’s around five times busier than normal.
“Crews have been working incredibly hard throughout the night, mainly attending flooding incidents and fallen trees, as well as being called to structures such as windows, roof tiles and signs which have been left in a precarious position by the high winds."
A fire brigade has urged people to cancel their own plans for firework displays on Friday and attend an organised event instead because of planned strike action
Members of the Fire Brigades Union in England and Wales will walk out from 6.30pm to 11pm in a long-running dispute with the Government over pensions.
A second strike will be held for two hours from 6am on Monday 4 November, the day before Bonfire Night.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "Serious emergencies will be attended, but smaller incidents won't so we are calling on the public not to put themselves at risk by lighting fireworks and bonfires."
London Fire Brigade reports that an elderly woman is in hospital after a gas explosion caused three buildings to collapse and damaged a further two in Hounslow, south-west London.
Three houses have collapsed and two others have been damaged following a gas explosion on Bath Road in Hounslow. Three people escaped from the properties before firefighters arrived and an elderly woman has been taken to hospital by London Ambulance.
Urban search and rescue crews are working to make the structure safe and ensure any fires are put out. Twelve people were evacuated from surrounding properties as a precaution. Crews have rescued a dog from one of the houses.
Six fire engines are at the scene with a number of specialist vehicles.
The Fifty Shades of Grey effect could be to blame for an increasing number of handcuff-related emergency call-outs over the past three years, London Fire Brigade said today.
Firefighters have been called out to 79 incidents of people being trapped in handcuffs during that period and the brigade advised people to "keep the keys handy."
Third officer Dave Brown, said: "Some of the incidents our firefighters are called out to could be prevented with a little common sense. I don't know whether it's the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up."
London Fire Brigade received 42 calls about the foul-smelling but harmless cloud of gas from Frnace than has wafted over parts of the south east - and announced it on Twitter in the style of Allo Allo character Officer Crabtree: