UK heatwave: Glass bottles left in sun could spark wildfires, firefighters warn

Tom Powell
Firefighters have tackled a series of grass fires including a huge blaze on Wanstead Flats last weekend: PA Wire/PA Images

Firefighters are warning Londoners that glass bottles left in the sun could trigger wildfires ahead of another hot and dry weekend.

The sizzling heatwave has led to a surge in grass fires in the capital, with the fire brigade’s chief commissioner Dany Cotton admitting she is “praying for rain”.

The brigade has issued advice on how to prevent grass fires as forecasters predict London could swelter again in near-30C heat this weekend.

They warned that bottles, glasses and broken glass must be cleared away to avoid magnifying the sun’s rays and starting a fire.

Tips for avoiding wildfires

  • Never leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them
  • Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire
  • Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes safely
  • Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires

They also asked people to avoid lighting barbecues on dry grass or in parks, and to call 999 at the first sign of smouldering grass.

It comes after an area the size of 100 football pitches went up in flames on Wanstead Flats in east London last weekend .

More than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines were sent to deal with the blaze, which was so extensive it was classed as a wildfire.

Another large blaze saw 100 firefighters called out to Feltham on Saturday afternoon, while 15 fire engines were sent to a grass fire in Ockenden, Essex, on Sunday.

The London Fire Brigade has attended more than 800 grass fires this year.

Ms Cotton said: “We are calling on the public to take steps to prevent grass fires: don’t drop cigarettes or matches on dry ground or out of car windows; don’t have barbecues on dry grass or parks and don’t leave glass bottles out as they can concentrate the sun’s rays and start a blaze.

The fire on Wanstead Flats could be seen for miles (Dean Harding)

“Grass fires spread like lightening so if you see dry grass smouldering, please call 999 and report it immediately so that firefighters can deal with it and stop it from spreading.”