Cordon lifted after Wennington fire as images show devastation of blaze on UK's hottest day

·4-min read

Images from behind the cordon at a village in east London show the damage and devastation caused by the fire which broke out during last week's heatwave.

On Tuesday, which was the hottest day ever in the UK, several houses were destroyed and others were severely damaged in Wennington after grass fires broke out, engulfing properties, as black smoke billowed into the air.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) sent 15 fire engines and about 100 firefighters to the area to deal with blazes that covered a number of buildings and grassland.

Fire officials have told Sky News that some of the people whose homes have been destroyed are still on holiday and so haven't yet seen what remains of their homes.

The area has been cordoned off since the fire broke out, but residents will be allowed back later on Sunday.

Sky News correspondent Ivor Bennett was shown around the area before officials lifted the cordon.

Although it has now been five days since the fire, the LFB delayed access to the village due to the threat of reignition.

Firefighters have spent the last five days damping down the embers and the ashes to ensure there are no lingering hotspots which could start the fire again.

Footage showed one house with the roof completely destroyed and several properties were left uninhabitable, with only the brick structure remaining.

While others had blown-out windows, walls cracked by intense heat and buildings reduced to rubble.

"The scale of destruction here is really quite unbelievable, like something out of a war zone or a disaster film rather than a village on the outskirts of East London.

"Yet here we are looking at complete devastation," said Ivor Bennett.

The pictured crack in the brickwork is called spalling and is caused by extreme heat

Near a local church, the blaze charred the grass while safety barriers still remain in the scene.

"As you can see they are completely gutted, what's left in there is just a pile of rubble, a few charred rafters - in here you can see a bathtub, the remains of an ironing board a few radiators - completely charred.

"Inside you can just see right through to the field beyond and and if you look up well, there's nothing but sky, no roof at all remains," Ivor Bennett added.

Up to 20 families were affected by the house fires in Wennington.

Several other fires broke out across London and England, on a day when temperatures surpassed 40C.

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

Paul McClenaghan, the Havering borough commander for London Fire Brigade, told Sky News the blaze was "unprecedented".

"We've had grass fires for years, you know, we've always dealt with them, but this was unprecedented, it's involved buildings. It's something you wouldn't expect.

"We see it in France, we see in Spain, places like that... but all of a sudden now you're looking across this scene."

Asked if it could happen again Mr McCleneghan said: "Of course. If it's happened once. Yeah, definitely."

Havering council leader Ray Morgon told Sky News: "I've never seen anything like it in my whole life and I do not want to see anything like this again. But sadly, because of climate change, this may well happen again.

"We obviously need to start making some changes to our lifestyle and the way everybody operates in order to perhaps mitigate the chances of this happening again," Mr Morgon added.

"On this occasion, we had extreme heat, but in Havering in the past, we have had severe floods. And of course, we've also had the storms, we had some quite severe storms earlier in the year.

"So our climate is changing, weather is becoming more extreme, therefore we need to start making some changes to deal with that."

Read more:
Families left counting cost of 'devastating' house fires
UK's hottest-ever day leaves charred remains

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

The London Fire Brigade said it was their busiest day since the Second World War.

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