UK weather: Avoid having barbecues, Britons warned amid heatwave fires

·3-min read
More than 30 firefighters tackled the blaze, which the fire service said was exacerbated by the very dry conditions
More than 30 firefighters tackled the blaze, which the fire service said was exacerbated by the very dry conditions

It might seem like perfect barbecue weather - but the risk of fire is too great for fire pits and outdoor cooking, the public has been warned.

Even a home barbecue should be avoided, fire chiefs have said, after a garden fire in Essex spread to 15 homes and left seven people hurt on Saturday night.

The fire in Chelmsford, Essex, started when a garden fire spread to a group of conifers, and led to 40 people being evacuated from their homes.

More than 30 firefighters tackled the blaze, which the fire service said was exacerbated by the very dry conditions.

The blaze caught hold and spread quickly to a group of conifer trees, destroying multiple gardens
The blaze caught hold and spread quickly to a group of conifer trees, destroying multiple gardens

It came as around 70 firefighters were on Sunday night battling a wildfire which swept across grassland and burned up residents' decking in West London.

Smoke was visible to passengers landing at Heathrow Airport after the fire broke out in Feltham at around 4.30pm on Sunday.

About 60 people were evacuated from their homes as firefighters battled the blaze, with crews managing to stop flames spreading to about 30 homes.

The Metropolitan Police told people to stay away from Hereford Road.

Dozens of firefighters saved around 30 homes when they tackled a blaze in Feltham - PA
Dozens of firefighters saved around 30 homes when they tackled a blaze in Feltham - PA

Several weeks of dry weather in the south and east, and a forecast for more hot conditions and no rain next week have led to concerns that more wildfires could start and spread, threatening lives and homes.

Neil Fenwick, area manager for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, said: "While summer weather usually provides the perfect opportunity to host a barbecue or gather around a chiminea in the evening, we're strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment.

"The ground across Essex is extremely dry allowing fires to spread easily and quickly. This is true for gardens as well as fields and heathland.

"Please don't have barbecues or bonfires. Please don't use fireworks or set off sky lanterns. Doing so could cause a large scale fire like the one we've seen this evening."

Sunday morning cyclists take in the the lower water line. The largest reservoir in England, in the smallest county Rutand has seen its levels drop by five feet over the summer - David Rose for the Telegraph
Sunday morning cyclists take in the the lower water line. The largest reservoir in England, in the smallest county Rutand has seen its levels drop by five feet over the summer - David Rose for the Telegraph
A pond has dried up and conkers have started to fall at a park in Wanstead, East London - Jeff Moore
A pond has dried up and conkers have started to fall at a park in Wanstead, East London - Jeff Moore

Visitors to National Trust land in the New Forest in Hampshire were asked not to smoke to avoid accidentally starting fires.

The London Fire Brigade has called for a ban on disposable barbecues because of the fire risk, and said people should consider if having any outdoor fire is necessary.

The fire was one of several grass or tree fires to start around the country in recent days, with another blaze near Stonehenge destroying several acres of crops on Saturday, and a wildfire near Truro in Cornwall which took six fire engines to put out.

Britain's record-breaking heatwave last month saw the London Fire Brigade report its busiest day since the Second World War, with hundreds of fires igniting across the capital on the hottest day ever recorded.