Authorities have declared a ‘major incident’ in London after record temperatures sparked multiple blazes across the city.
It came after the UK hit its hottest ever day on Tuesday, with several locations across the UK topping 40 degrees for the first time on record.
Lincolnshire in England’s east notched up the highest temperature with 40.3 at the Royal Air Force base of Coningsby.
While this was nearly matched in the capital with St James’ Park, next to Buckingham Palace, reaching 40.2.
At least 34 weather stations across the country recorded their highest ever temperature on Tuesday, surpassing the UK's previous national record of 38.7 degrees in Cambridge in 2019.
The extreme heat, which has been caused by desert air blowing in from the Sahara, has forced train services to be cancelled across the country due to tracks buckling.
Many schools have also closed their doors while others have relaxed uniform rules and cancelled physical activity.
A significant blaze in #Dagenham is affecting a number of houses, a workshop & a huge area of grassland. Residents are advised to keep their windows and doors closed and motorists should avoid the area where possible. Fifteen fire engines are at the scene https://t.co/mk4b3CyvE9 pic.twitter.com/0j5EezBt8x
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) July 19, 2022
Unheard of temperatures ignite blazes across London
By Tuesday afternoon, several large fires had broken out across London, forcing the city’s Fire Brigade to declare a ‘major incident.’
In what London Mayor Sadiq Khan described as a "critical situation," dozens of fire engines and hundreds of firefighters were deployed to at least 10 seperate blazes.
The worst was felt in the village of Wennington, on the outskirts of London, where grass fires flared up and engulfed homes, destroying several properties and leaving others severely damaged.
Fires were also reported in Upminster, Pinner, Southgate, Croydon, Dagenham, Wembley, Henden and Eltham.
More than 1,600 calls were made to the London Fire Brigade on Tuesday, more than five times the daily average.
It's urging residents not to call them unless it is a genuine emergency.
Trees on fire along a highway east of London, UK. pic.twitter.com/87H7LK0cRq
— Sue Knows Best (@sues86453) July 19, 2022
While fire brigades across the country have also declared major incidents, including in Hertfordshire, just north of London, and Leicestershire in the Midlands.
Blazes have also been reported in Leeds, Kent and Norfolk.
While extreme temperatures force more people to seek respite, at least 13 people have died in open water over the heatwave period.
Fire continues to rage across Europe
As extreme temperatures continue to bear down on Europe, firefighters in France, Spain, Portugal and Greece are still battling huge forest fires
The blazes across the continent have already killed several people, while thousands have been evacuated from their homes.
While the UN's World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has issued a dire warning, saying such events are expected to occur with greater frequency in the future due to climate change.
"The direction is clear and in the future these kind of heatwaves are going to be normal and we will see stronger extremes," WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said.
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