Wennington fire: 16 firefighters injured and two taken to hospital after battling east London wildfire blaze

Deputy fire commissioner Jonathan Smith warned that climate change is now “front and centre” of the challenges faced by the emergency services.

Two firefighters have been admitted to hospital and 16 injured while battling a wildfire blaze in Wennington, near Rainham, in east London.

It comes as deputy fire commissioner Jonathan Smith admits climate change is now “front and centre” of the challenges faced by the emergency services.

A huge fire broke out and engulfed homes in Wennington as 100 firefighters battled the flames.

London was scorched by a record-breaking 40.2C heatwave yesterday (Tuesday, July 19), while the fire service declared major incident as flames sprang up across the city.

It was the London Fire Brigade’s busiest day since the Second World War, and at one point crews were called to 12 major fires simultaneously.

Deputy fire commissioner Jonathan Smith admits climate change is now “front and centre” of the challenges faced by the emergency services. Credit: Claudia Marquis

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Speaking at Wennington fire station today, DAC Smith, who has been a firefighter for 23 years, told LondonWorld: “We’ve never faced anything like the situation that we faced, not just here in Wennington, but actually across London yesterday.

“We’ve never had firefighters having to operate in 40C heat - yesterday was unprecedented with over 2,600 calls.

“We responded to well over 1,000 fire calls, many caused by the heat.”

More than a dozen families have been left homeless after a fire tore through the small village of Wennington, on the outskirts of east London, yesterday amid the UK's record breaking 40C heatwave.

He added: “We’re used to operating in extremes of heat, but yesterday not only were we facing fires and the heat they generate but we were operating in conditions reaching 40C.

“What you have to do to bring fires in the open under control is extremely labour intensive.

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“You have to drag hoses across fields, move equipment very quickly, set up water supplies.

“All of that is very draining but in 40C heat that’s why we had a number of firefighters who were struggling with the heat who were injured.”

The Wennington fire occurred on the busiest day the London Fire Brigade had tackled since the Second World War, which saw 16 firefighters injured in the carnage.

Mr Smith said all those hurt had now been discharged.

Climate change is now front and centre in terms of those risks that we know as an emergency service we need to deal with,” he said.

“We need to ensure we’re prepared and have the resources we need.

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“We’re not immune to the current financial challenge that faces us as an organisation in London but also nationally.

“We need to prioritise our resources to deal with the challenge climate change poses.”

Residents are being temporarily housed in a nearby leisure centre, while firefighters continue to work on the scene in the village.

At least eight houses are feared to have burned to the ground and 90 properties were evacuated.