London Fire Brigade declares ‘major incident’ due to surge in fires on hottest day on record

Hundreds of firefighters across London are currently battling to get grass fires under control, as the temperature went over 40C for the first time ever.

The London Fire Brigade has declared a “major incident” due to the number of blazes which have broken out amid record temperatures.

Almost 200 firefighters are currently tackling a blaze in a cornfield next to the M25, while 100 other firefighters are attempting to contain a grass fire which has spread to buildings in Wennington.

Huge grass fires have also broken out in Croydon and Harrow, as the mercury hit 40.2C at Heathrow Airport the highest recorded temperature in UK history.

The Fire Brigade said it was currently tackling at least 10 major fires including:

The London Fire Brigade has declared a ‘major incident’ due to a surge in fires on the hottest day on record. Credit: LFB

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is critical: the London Fire Brigade is under immense pressure. Please be safe.”

The mayor urged Londoners to:

  • Don’t BBQ on grass or balconies
  • Don’t leave broken bottles or glass on the grass (it can start fires)
  • Dispose of cigarettes safely
  • Report a fire as soon as you see one

The LFB said: “Whilst we’re asking people to only call 999 if there is a genuine emergency or if there’s an immediate risk to life, if you do see a fire smouldering, don’t hesitate to call us.

“The sooner we know about a fire, the sooner we can bring it under control.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has activated the severe weather protocol. Photo: Getty

Assistant Commissioner Patrick Goulbourne, said: “The Brigade remains ready to respond to incidents, however we want to ensure our resources are available for people who really need our help.

“If you see a fire smouldering, please don’t hesitate to call us. The sooner we know about a fire, the sooner we can bring it under control and prevent it from spreading further, reducing the need for us to mobilise additional resources.

“We are also strongly urging people not to have barbecues or bonfires today, as the ground is incredibly dry, which means even the smallest sparks could cause a fire.

“Please take care during the heatwave as all emergency services are facing unprecedented challenges.”

London Fire Brigade advice

  • Don’t drop cigarettes or anything that is burning on dry ground.
  • Don’t drop cigarettes out of car windows, they may land on dry grass by the roadside.
  • Don’t have barbecues in parks and public spaces.
  • Do not barbecue on balconies, the wind may carry smouldering ash towards nearby grassland.
  • Don’t dive into open water as it’s colder than it looks. There is the risk of cold water shock, which can cause your body to go into shock no matter how fit you are. It causes panic, anxiety, disorientation and loss of muscular control, which cause you to gasp for air and as a result, inhale water. Rather than struggling, follow the RNLI advice and ‘float to live’.
  • In this extreme heat, please keep an eye out for vulnerable neighbours and family members and make sure to keep hydrated.

Barbecue ban

Fire Commissioner Andy Roe has also called for an urgent ban on disposable barbecues in parks and open spaces.

He said: “With no end to the hot weather in sight, I am deeply concerned the unprecedented scale of these fires is set to continue, putting lives at risk and devastating green spaces around the capital.

“The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has been issuing warnings and safety advice to Londoners throughout the summer, but people are continuing to behave carelessly and recklessly.

“I am now calling for a temporary ban on the use of barbecues in all public parks and open spaces and I’m asking for your help to keep people safe.”

More to follow.