Storm warning after record heatwave led to London firefighters’ busiest day since Second World War

Video shows fire damage in Wennington, east London the day after dozens of house were destroyed by fire


Part of the South East are braced for storms after a day of record heat that saw firefighters face their busiest day since the Second World War and major travel disruption.

A major incident was declared in London on Tuesday as fires broke out in several areas amid the tinder-dry conditions.

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 were injured tackling the blazes with two admitted to hospital who were later discharged, London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner, Jonathan Smith told Times Radio.

Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington

'41 properties were destroyed'

Sadiq Khan said the London Fire Brigade had experienced its busiest day on record, receiving more than 2,600 calls throughout the day – seven times the usual number.

The London Mayor told Sky News: “Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the Second World War.”

He added: “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.”

A firefighter tackles the blaze in east London during the record-breaking heatwave

The Met Office said 34 observation sites across England provisionally broke the previous all-time record, ranging from Bramham, in West Yorkshire, to Charlwood, in Surrey, while a further five had equalled it on Tuesday.

The temperature is set to drop by up to 10C in some areas on Wednesday, with heavy showers and thunderstorms predicted to lash parts of the country, potentially causing localised flooding and further travel disruption.

Heatwaves are being made more intense, frequent and longer by climate change, and scientists said it would be “virtually impossible” for the UK to have experienced temperatures reaching 40C without human-driven global warming.

However, the Met Office said there would be a showery breakdown of the heat on Wednesday, with a yellow warning for thunderstorms in place for parts of south-east, east and central England in the afternoon and evening.

The service 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.

The weather will be fresher for most places, although some parts of East Anglia will still see temperatures reach as high as 30C.

Wednesday’s rain, where it occurs, will be much heavier than on Tuesday.


Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...