firefighters lasted at least 22 Forest fires as well as hundreds of smaller blazes across the country as residents were evacuated from their homes.
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Two “large-scale” incidents occurred in Upminster and the east London village of Wennington, where black smoke billowed into the air while flames destroyed buildings and ravaged nearby fields.
Villagers were evacuated from their homes and a firefighter who took charge of the Wennington fire reportedly described the conditions as “absolute hell”.
Sixteen firefighters were injured fighting the blaze, with two hospitalized, London Fire Brigade (LFB) Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Smith told Times Radio.
He said: “The conditions in which our firefighters were deployed were unprecedented – they worked in 40C heat, had to pull a significant amount of hose across the fields and made sure we were rescuing people where it was needed.
“We had 16 firefighters who suffered heat-related injuries, two of whom were hospitalized, but I’m pleased to say they have now been discharged from hospital.”
Northwest of Leicester, five pumps and a water carrier were called to the scene in a large grass fire in Bradgate Park, while firefighters in Walton on the Wolds have urged residents to keep their windows closed due to a large barn fire.
In Nottinghamshire, a major forest fire led to the evacuation of local residents over fears the fire could destroy buildings in the village due to the direction of the wind.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, which experienced the country’s hottest temperature on record at 40.3C, said it had 25 fire engines on Tuesday in a number of different incidents across the county, including eight fire crews involved in a fire in a four-story block of flats attended Haven Village.
A major fire on the A2 in Dartford burned several houses and in Milton Keynes a fire destroyed three houses and one storey building.
Firefighters in Norfolk were called to more than 80 incidents on Tuesday, including one that started in a field in the village of Ashmanhaugh and spread to two houses.
Doncaster Council also announced that a fire in Clayton had spread to three flats and further reports of houses on fire in the Kiverton Park and Maltby areas of Rotherham.
The Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said it had been called to more than 60 incidents, 38 of which were outdoor fires, and described the situation as “unprecedented”.
What did the government say about the fires?
Sadiq Khan said the LFB had experienced its busiest day on record, receiving more than 2,600 calls throughout the day – seven times the usual number.
The Mayor of London told Sky News: “Yesterday was the busiest day for fire services 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 pair 15 and some 12.
“I’m afraid the bad news is that 41 properties have been demolished in London.”
Simon Clarke, the chief secretary of the Treasury, also told Sky News that the fires were a “red flag” of the effects of climate change.
“This is a remarkable, unprecedented event and something that we obviously, because people have said, is not used to in this country,” he said.
“What we have seen in the past few days is not normal and is a warning sign.”
Clarke also pledged that the government would “step in” to help families affected by major fires sparked by the extreme heat.
He did not say specifically what help the government might give to those without insurance whose homes or belongings were destroyed.
“The government will stand by people who need help,” he told Sky News.
“The Government will look carefully at what we can do to ensure everyone gets the support they need.
“And of course, the first thing to do is to make sure they have short-term support – people may have lost all their belongings and identity documents.
“I know our local governments will be increasing their concern for people affected by fires across the country, but the central government, as always, stands ready to step in if necessary.”