Wennington fire: Resident tells of terror of ‘unbearable heat’ as neighbours evacuated

Firefighters battled in horrific conditions in Wennington, near Rainham, on Tuesday, as 40C heat blistered the UK and fires lit up across the city.

A Wennington resident has told of the “unbelievable… unbearable heat” as a fire raged through an east London village during a savage heatwave.

Firefighters battled in horrific conditions in Wennington, near Rainham, east London, on Tuesday as 40C heat blistered the UK and fires lit up across the city.

It is thought around 19 houses have been completely destroyed, and 90 homes were evacuated as the blaze raged.

Laurence Kamm, 73, from Wennington, told LondonWorld how he helped evacuate neighbours from the inferno.

Speaking at Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre, where some residents have been evacuated to and put up in temporary accommodation, he said: “We were literally knocking on doors trying to get people out.

A Union Jack flag flies amongst the the rubble and destruction in Wennington, Havering. Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

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“We were there when some of the houses literally exploded into flames.

“It was absolutely unbelievable - I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. The heat was unbearable.”

Mr Kamm, who is semi-retired, lives in Wennington, Havering, with his wife and son.

“We were aware there was a fire somewhere because of the smoke and ash,” he explained.

“We came out of the house and looked down the alley and the right-hand house was ablaze.

“We only had one fire attendant at the time so we were helping them get the hoses out as there was no one else.

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Resident Laurence Kamm, 73, from Wennington, told LondonWorld how he helped evacuate neighbours from the inferno. Credit: Claudia Marquis

“The fire just spread - local residents were evacuating all the houses.

“The fire brigade had their work cut out - they sent engines from all over Essex and Kent.

“We were very lucky because four houses to the left of us we now know were completely destroyed, but we were safe because there was a windbreak.

“The only damage is the bottom of the garden is destroyed.”

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.

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And Mr Kamm said the tragedy had left people shaken, while bringing the best out in the local community.

“It brings you to tears,” he confessed, adding: “10, 15 houses destroyed - a lot of people have lost everything.

“The community has pulled together so its a very emotional time for everyone down there and we don’t know when we can back.

“We were in a hotel last night and tonight and we’re waiting for the fire brigade to give us the all clear so we can go back.”

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said that two detached houses, two semi-detached houses, two rows of terraced houses, two outbuildings, six single-storey garages, 12 stables and five cars were ruined by the blaze.

Firefighters are continuing to make the scene safe, while fire investigators are assessing the cause of the blaze.

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Some residents are being houses in a nearby hotel, while others are camping out on the floor of the leisure centre.

Volunteers are collecting donations at the Harris Academy Rainham, and could be seen handing out water to the victims of the blaze.