London Fire Brigade recorded its busiest day since the Second World War as a result of the outbreak of hundreds of fires amid record temperatures.
On Tuesday, firefighters battled with more than 1,000 incidents across the capital, with the service taking 2,670 calls – seven times the usual number.
There were no deaths but more than 40 houses and shops were destroyed after a number of significant grass fires spread to nearby buildings, including in Wennington, Dagenham and Kenton, the brigade said.
A total of 16 firefighters suffered heat-related injuries, and two of them were taken to hospital.
Tim Stock, whose home was destroyed in Havering, east London, compared what happened to the Blitz, saying it was “like a warzone”.
London Fire Brigade’s assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said: “Yesterday’s fires are another example of how we are increasingly being challenged by new extremes of weather as our climate changes, and we’re developing long-term strategies to deal with more incidents like this in the future.”
In South Yorkshire, there were serious blazes in Barnsley and Clayton, while firefighters in Norfolk were called to more than 80 incidents on Tuesday.
Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said it was called to more than 60 incidents, 38 of which were fires in the open, describing the situation as “unprecedented”.
The UK recorded a new provisional high temperature of 40.3C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday, outstripping the previous record set in Cambridge in 2019 of 38.7.
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.