UK's hottest-ever day leaves charred remains of homes and cars - and 'danger isn't over'

·3 min read

Sky News has witnessed close up the devastation caused by grass fires in an east London village where nearly 20 homes were destroyed on the UK's hottest day on record.

Striking photographs taken by correspondent Sadiya Chowdhury show a Mini that was torched by the flames only metres from Wennington's fire station.

In other images, houses are missing roofs and windows after they were gutted yesterday by blazes that also covered 20 hectares of grassland in the village.

London Fire Brigade had its busiest day since the Second World War as record temperatures led to dozens of fires across the capital, with the service taking 2,670 calls, compared with around 350 on a normal day.

No one died but more than 40 houses and shops were destroyed after a number of significant grass fires spread to nearby buildings, including in Wennington, Dagenham and Kenton. About 20 other properties were lost elsewhere in England.

In Wennington, 18 or 19 homes and five cars were destroyed by blazes.

Local councillor Ray Morgon told Sky News: "We've got our housing team who are helping people with their immediate housing needs, but obviously we need to have a conversation with people about their longer term housing needs."

Thunderstorm alert for parts of UK today - heatwave latest

Fire crews are still in Wennington. Chowdhury said she has been told the "danger isn't over" and the heat still "poses risks of new fires sparking off".

Heavy showers and thunderstorms were forecast in some parts of the country until 10pm on Wednesday, but the threat of wildfires remains as high temperatures persist in some areas and there has been little rain for months

Asked what conditions were like in Wennington on Tuesday, a firefighter at the scene said: "Absolute hell."

Footage from Dagenham, east London, showed the charred remains of a big section of a street after a grassland fire spread.

Eight fire engines tackled a blaze on Ballards Road that left several burnt-out cars.

Read more:
Inside suburb hit by series of blazes on UK's hottest day

Scenes of wrecked buildings, melting runways and buckling train tracks gave a glimpse into what could become the new reality in summer months because of climate change.

The temperature climbed to 40.3C (104.5F) in the Lincolnshire village of Coningsby on Tuesday, beating the previous record of 38.7C (101.66F) set in Cambridge in 2019.

Major incidents were announced by fire brigades in London, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire.

A ring of fires in and around London led to people being evacuated and some were treated in hospital.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said 41 properties were destroyed in the city and 16 firefighters were injured, with some taken to hospital because of "heat stress".

'Brutal' day for fire crews

Firefighters were inundated with calls all around the country on Tuesday, with one fire chief calling the "brutal" day a "game-changer" and a preview of the effects of climate change.

The Met Office said 34 observation sites across England provisionally broke the previous record, from Bramham in West Yorkshire to Charlwood in Surrey.

The temperature exceeded 40C in six places, mostly in Greater London.

Elsewhere, there was a serious blaze in Barnsley when a row of houses was consumed by flames.

A major blaze in Clayton spread to three homes, Doncaster Council said.

Dave Walton, of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said Tuesday was a "peek into the future".

"It's about a completely and fundamentally different operating environment where fires burn with such ferocity, and spread with such speed in suburban areas that you can't stop them," he said.

"Today was about climate change, the hottest UK day on record - ever!"

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said the government will "stand by" those affected by the fires.

"I'm absolutely certain the government will look at whatever is needed to make sure that people are looked after at a time like this," he told Sky News.

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