UK weather news – live: Heatwave fires ‘like the Blitz’ as dozens of homes destroyed

·46-min read

The scene at a smouldering village on the outskirts of London, which saw some of yesterday’s most devastating fires, has been described by a resident as being “like the Blitz”.

Around 19 houses were destroyed after fires first seen in back gardens rapidly tore through rows of houses in Wennington.

Resident Tim Stock, who lost his family home of 60 years in the blaze, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It was like a warzone. Down the actual main road, all the windows had exploded out, all the rooves had caved, it was like a scene from the Blitz really.”

It comes as some 41 properties including homes and warehouses have been destroyed in the capital as Tuesday’s heatwave saw the busiest day for London’s Fire Brigade (LFB) since the Second World War, according to Sadiq Khan.

Operating in 40C heat on Tuesday, firefighters took an estimated 2,600 emergency calls and responded to over 1,000 fire calls, the London mayor told Sky News.

Of the 16 firefighters who suffered “heat-related injuries”, two were hospitalised, LFB assistant commissioner Jonathan Smith said. Both have since been released.

Key points

  • Wennington fires ‘like a scene from the Blitz, says resident

  • Climate change protesters block M25 after heatwave

  • London heatwave leads to firefighters’ busiest day since WW2

  • Temperatures drop by over 10C as Met warns of heavy showers

  • UK record 40C temperature for first time in history

  • ‘Unprecedented’ 22 major wildfires across UK

16:09 , Emily Atkinson

Good afternoon.

We are pausing our live heatwave updates for today. Thank you for joining us.

Fire rages in Dartford as searing heatwave hits UK

Tuesday 19 July 2022 15:42 , Joe Middleton

Avanti West Coast passengers urged not to go to Euston due to suspended services

Tuesday 19 July 2022 15:50 , Joe Middleton

Avanti West Coast passengers have been urged not to go to Euston station as all services have been suspended for Tuesday.

A spokesman said: “Due to the extreme heat causing multiple incidents across the network all Avanti West Coast services have now been withdrawn for the rest of today, Tuesday July 19.”

Customers with tickets for Tuesday can use them on Wednesday or Thursday, or claim a refund.

PA

Temperatures are now above 40C at a number of UK areas, say Met Office

Tuesday 19 July 2022 15:55 , Joe Middleton

The Met Office said said that temperatures are now “above 40C at a number of UK sites” but that “fresher conditions are now arriving across the far west of the country.”

Firefighters tackle outbuilding blaze during record-breaking heatwave

Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:09 , Joe Middleton

Firefighters are tackling a blaze in Wembley that erupted during the UK’s record-breaking heatwave.

Around 60 crew members were at the scene on Tuesday afternoon.

Zoe Tidman has the latest on this breaking story.

Firefighters tackle Wembley blaze during record-breaking heatwave

Prince Charles says tackling climate change is 'utterly essential' as heatwave grips UK

Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:30 , Joe Middleton

Drone photos show huge fire at Welsh beach

Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:45 , Joe Middleton

A large fire has broken out above a beach in southwest Wales, as the UK’s unprecedented heatwave sparked warnings of a “very extreme danger” of wildfires.

Drone footage showed flames and smoke billowing from a hill above Newgale beach in Pembrokeshire, where blazes broke out on both Sunday and Monday.

Rou Chater, a 46-year-old surfer who captured the footage, was out on the water when he spotted the fire, which he described as “totally out of control” and “the biggest one the area has seen for some time”.

Andy Gregory reports.

Drone photos show huge fire at Welsh beach as UK temperatures soar

Breaking: 40.3C record temperature in Coningsby

Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:49 , Holly Bancroft

The Met Office have recorded another record temperature of 40.3C in Coningsby, a slight increase on the previous record set in Heathrow today.

Full story: Temperature reachs 40.3C in Lincolnshire

Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:55 , Holly Bancroft

Temperature records were broken three times in one day in the UK on Tuesday, after temperatures hit 40.3C at Coningsby, surpassing two other records set just hours earlier.

The Met Office said a provisional temperature of 39.1C had been recorded in Charlwood, Surrey, at 10.40 am on Tuesday only for that record to be broken soon after.

London Heathrow reported a temperature of 40.2C at 12.50pm, followed by 40.3C at Coningsby at 4pm.

The highs exceeded the previous UK record of 38.7 in Cambridge in 2019.

UK temperature tops 40C for first time ever breaking record three times in one day

At least 29 places in England break all time temperature records

Tuesday 19 July 2022 16:59 , Holly Bancroft

At least 29 observation sites across England have provisionally broken the previous all time maximum UK record of 38.7 °C this afternoon, the Met Office have reported.

Temperature records were broken three times in one day in the UK on Tuesday, after temperatures hit 40.3C at Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

Police smash car windows to free dogs trapped inside in record heatwave

Tuesday 19 July 2022 17:11 , Holly Bancroft

Police were forced to smash the window of a £25,000 electric car to save a dog trapped inside during the record heatwave.

Officers intervened after a member of the public spotted the trapped pet on Oxendon Street, in central London, on Monday, as temperatures soared past 37C.

The owner of another dog is facing animal cruelty charges after police smashed a car window to rescue it fin Barnet.

John Thompson, 35, spotted the dog in Oxendon Street, Westminister, along with other bystanders in the early evening and caught the moment police arrived to free the animal on camera.

He said: “I was just immediately scared for the dog and thought ‘Come on, it’s the hottest day of the year’.”

Police smash car windows to free dogs trapped inside in record heatwave

More pictures emerge of a fire in East London

Tuesday 19 July 2022 17:35 , Holly Bancroft

More pictures have emerged of a significant fire in East London. Several buildings have burnt down in Wennington with the fire spreading across the town’s fields. It comes after a huge grass fire broke out in Dartford, Kent.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said twelve fire engines and a height vehicle had been sent to the scene near fire near Durrell Dene, in Joyce Green.

Crews are working to extinguish the roaring flames amid the hottest temperatures in Britain’s records. Multiple places including Heathrow airport and Kew Gardens have recorded temperatures of 40C.

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Met Office issue warning over thunderstorms

Tuesday 19 July 2022 17:48 , Holly Bancroft

The Met Office have issued a warning about imminent thunderstorms across parts of northern England and southern Scotland.

Leicestershire fire service declares major incident

Tuesday 19 July 2022 17:51 , Chris Baynes

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service has declared a major incident due to the high number of call-outs it is receiving.

The brigade said: “We have declared a major incident due to high demand across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland We will not be attending Automatic Fire alarms. Please only call us if it’s an emergency.”

The service is the second today to declare a major incident, following the London Fire Brigade, which is battling blazes across the capital.

Tuesday 19 July 2022 17:59 , Chris Baynes

Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has said it is dealing with two major fires, one in Walnut Tree in Milton Keynes and the second in Whitehouse Lane in Wooburn More.

New maximum temperature set in Scotland

Tuesday 19 July 2022 18:16 , Holly Bancroft

The Met Office have said that a new maximum temperature has been set in Scotland.

Charterhall in the Scottish Borders provisionally set a new maximum temperature record for Scotland on Tuesday, with the temperature rising to 34.8C earlier this afternoon.

This exceeds the previous record of 32.9C recorded in Greycrook on 9th August 2003.

Leicester Fire and Rescue Service declares major incident

Tuesday 19 July 2022 18:40 , Holly Bancroft

Leicester Fire and Rescue Service has joined the London Fire Brigade in declaring a major incident as fires rage across the UK due to the heatwave.

Jonathan Smith, assistant commissioner of LFB, said earlier today that “we probably haven’t seen weather-related incidents on this scale before” as temperatures tipped over 40C in parts of the capital.

Leicester Fire and Rescue Service also said they were dealing with a grass fire off Bradgate Hill, Groby. They advised people to avoid the area and said that five pumps and a water carrier are at the scene.

‘Unprecedented’ 22 major wildfires across UK

Tuesday 19 July 2022 19:00 , Chris Baynes

National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has recorded 22 major wildfires since 11am this morning and hundreds of smaller vegetation fires, reports The Independent’s climate correspondent Saphora Smith.

The NFCC’s reporting tool only records significant wildfires that meet one or more of its criteria, which includes that it impacts an area bigger than one hectare, has sustained flame lengths of more than 1.5 metres or presents a serious threat to life, environment, property and infrastructure.

Paul Hedley, the lead on wildfires for the council, said the volume of fires today was most likely unprecedented.

Heatwave leaves supermarket shelves empty as shoppers race to buy water and ice cream

Tuesday 19 July 2022 19:25 , Holly Bancroft

The UK’s heatwave has emptied out supermarket shelves as shoppers snap up water and ice-cream in the scorching weather.

The country has been hit by days of extreme heat, with its hottest-ever temperature - 40.3C - recorded on Tuesday.

And according to images of bare supermarket shelves, it seems like Britons are doing all they can to stay cool in the exceptionally hot weather.

Shoppers have come across empty sections where bottled water normally is during the heatwave, which was forecast to peak on Monday and Tuesday.

A number posted social media, saying they had turned up to supermarkets to find water gone or very little left.

Heatwave leaves supermarket shelves empty as shoppers race to buy water and ice cream

Do not have barbeques, London Fire Brigade urges

Tuesday 19 July 2022 19:52 , Holly Bancroft

London Fire Brigrade have urged people not to have barbeques as they tackle an unprecedented number of fires across the capital.

Around 15 hectares of grassland and undergrowth is alight on Western Avenue in Uxbridge, the service tweeted. London mayor Sadiq Khan has previously said that the fire service received more than 1600 calls for assistance today.

More women ‘could die’ in UK heatwave than men, expert warns

Tuesday 19 July 2022 20:25 , Holly Bancroft

More women could die in the UK heatwave than men due to being “more vulnerable” to hot temperatures, an expert has said.

The UK recorded its hottest temperature in history before midday on Tuesday - with temperatures climbing to over 40C (104F).

Mike Tipson, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology at the Extreme Environments Laboratories, told The Independent women appear to be more at risk in heatwaves for both physiological and sociological reasons.

His comments echo research into heatwaves carried out in the Netherlands which found mortality rates were 15 per cent higher for elderly women than men - with researchers analysing statistics from the 2003 heatwave in France.

Read the full report from Maya Oppenheim here:

More women ‘could die’ in UK heatwave than men, expert warns

Recap: Scotland records its hottest day ever

Tuesday 19 July 2022 20:43 , Press Association

Scotland has recorded its hottest day ever as temperatures climbed to 34.8C.

The temperature was recorded at Charterhall, in the Scottish Borders, according to provisional Met Office figures, and beat an almost 19-year-old record by 1.9C.

Since August 2003, Greycrook - also in the Scottish Borders - held the temperature record north of the border when it experienced a high of 32.9C.

Mark Wilson, of the Met Office, said Tuesday was “officially the highest temperature recorded in Scotland since records began”.

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning - for extreme heat in eastern, southern and central parts of Scotland - which is in force until midnight on Tuesday.

And, at the same time, the forecaster has issued a yellow warning for thunderstorms for areas across north-east England and the Borders which is in place until 8pm.

Elsewhere in Scotland Eskdalemuir in Dumfries and Galloway recorded a temperature of 32.3C, while in Threave, Dumfries and Galloway, the thermometer climbed to 31.2C, the Met Office said earlier on Tuesday.

Heatwaves are being made more intense, frequent and longer by climate change, and scientists said it would be “virtually impossible” for the UK to have experienced temperatures reaching 40C without human-driven global warming.

Government accused of ‘pure greenwash’ as it launches Jet Zero aviation strategy on hottest day ever recorded

Tuesday 19 July 2022 21:36 , Holly Bancroft

Government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector and meet the 2050 net zero deadline mean people “can fly guilt-free”, ministers have said, claiming future emissions will not rise above pre-pandemic levels.

The “Jet Zero” strategy, launched on Tuesday at Farnborough Air Show, on the hottest day in British history, has been strongly criticised by campaigners who have said measures to reduce the environmental impact of flying do not go far enough.

The plans, announced by the transport secretary Grant Shapps at the airshow, set out how the government says it will aim to reach the “hugely challenging” 2050 net zero target. It includes targets for domestic aviation to reach net zero by 2040, for so-called “sustainable aviation fuel” to account for 10 per cent of jet fuel by 2030, and for the creation of five plants making these fuels – which come from materials such as household waste, sewage, or used cooking oil.

Read the full story from Harry Cockburn here:

Government launches Jet zero aviation strategy on hottest day ever recorded

Woman pictured in tears after fire tears through village

Tuesday 19 July 2022 21:54 , Liam James

The small village of Wennington on the outskirts of east London was torn apart by fire today.

Pictures from the scene show a woman in tears being comforted as a row of houses was destroyed in the fire.

More than 100 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze in Wennington which spread across several acres of grassland and hit buildings.

A woman is comforted close to the blaze in the village of Wennington (PA)
A woman is comforted close to the blaze in the village of Wennington (PA)
Row of houses destroyed in the Wennington fire (PA)
Row of houses destroyed in the Wennington fire (PA)

All 34 places which beat UK temperature record today

Tuesday 19 July 2022 22:20 , Liam James

On Tuesday, Britain’s temperature record of 38.7C was smashed at Coningsby in Lincolnshire and 33 other locations across England.

Met Office has released a full list of places, temperatures and the times they exceeded the record:

15.12: Coningsby, Lincolnshire, 40.3 — 12.20: Heathrow, west London, 40.2 — 13.55: St James’s Park, central London, 40.2 — 15.26: Gringley-on-the-Hill, Nottinghamshire, 40.1 — 12.28: Kew Gardens, south west London, 40.1 — 12.39: Northolt, west London, 40 — 13.29: Niab in Cambridge, 39.9 —11.06: Charlwood, Surrey, 39.9 — 14.05: Cranwell, Lincolnshire, 39.9 — 15.30: Scampton, Lincolnshire, 39.9 — 14.37: Wittering, Cambridgeshire, 39.9 — 15.02: Bramham, West Yorkshire, 39.8 — 14.55: Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire, 39.8 — 14.07: Watnall, Nottinghamshire, 39.8 — 13.19: Bushey Park, Teddington, southwest London, 39.6 — 15.08: Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, 39.6 — 13.49: Woburn, Bedfordshire, 39.6 — 14.35: Bedford, Bedfordshire, 39.5 — 15.50: Normanby Hall, North Lincolnshire, 39.4 — 13.59: Sheffield, South Yorkshire, 39.4 — 14.28: Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire, 39.4 — 11.17: Wisely, Surrey, 39.3 — 11.39: Chertsey, Surrey, 39.2 — 13.39: Marham, Norfolk, 39.2 — 14.12: Holbeach, Lincolnshire, 39.1 — 14.01: Ryhill, West Yorkshire, 39.1 — 13.15: Writtle, Essex, 39.1 — 12.47: Santon Downham, Suffolk, 39 — 13.08: Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, 39 — 13.55: Coton in the Elms, Derbyshire, 38.9 — 12.20: Iver, Buckinhamshire, 38.9 — 13.04: Coleshill, Warwickshire, 38.8 — 13.24: High Beach, Essex, 38.8 — 14.57: Leeming, North Yorkshire, 38.8

Residents evacuated due to fire worry their homes are gone

Tuesday 19 July 2022 23:10 , Liam James

Residents in Wennington have described the blaze which has destroyed homes as their “worst nightmare”.

Locals were evacuated from their homes in the east London village on Tuesday afternoon as black smoke billowed into the air while flames destroyed buildings and ravaged nearby fields.

A rescue centre for residents was set up at the Premier Inn on New Road.

Riminta Maceikaite, 38 and her son Nikas Janulevicius, 13, said their neighbours’ homes were burned down but as far as they can see from TV aerial shots, their house is still standing.

Ms Maceikaite said they were “very anxious” about their home, adding: “When you look on a camera when it shows you from the sky it just freaks you out.”

Nikas said: “Our house is on the news and it’s the only house that hasn’t been burned so far.

Resident Janet Hickey, 70, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, said she was forced to leave all her cancer drugs behind as they were evacuated.

“I’m terminally ill so it’s not great to lose all that. I’m also an artist and all my paintings are there,” she said.

Her husband Patrick Hickey, 71, added: “We had to leave everything. We’re hoping against hope that our house is still there.”

Several houses were destroyed in the fire (Sky News)
Several houses were destroyed in the fire (Sky News)
From a distance smoke can be seen spreading far and wide (Getty)
From a distance smoke can be seen spreading far and wide (Getty)

Heat health alert lowered as record day comes to close

Wednesday 20 July 2022 00:01 , Liam James

England will no longer be under the highest level of heat alert as Wednesday is set to be cooler than the record heights of Tuesday.

The level 4 heat-health alert has been lifted from all nine regions of England as of Wednesday 20 July, the UKHSA said.

The East Midlands, East of England and Yorkshire and Humber regions will remain under a level 3 alert until 9am on Thursday 21 July.

The UKHSA said this means it is important to carry on following public health advice in these regions.

Temperatures for the rest of the week are unlikely to reach beyond 30C as the country cools down from a period of extreme heat but Britain is likely to see similar high points again due to climate change.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, head of extreme events and health protection at the UKHSA, said: “The very high temperatures have peaked for this week but they have been a wake-up call about the very real effects of climate change and the serious impacts it will have on our health.”

Nine of Britain’s hottest days occured in past 20 years

01:00 , Liam James

Nine of the UK’s 12 hottest days on record since 1884 have occurred within the last two decades.

Tuesday’s provisional record high at Coningsby in Lincolnshire of 40.3C means that four of the top five hottest days have taken place between 2019 and 2022.

Only one of top 12 hottest days took place before 1990.

Met Office figures show that spikes in the UK’s daily maximum temperature are becoming both more frequent and more recent.

A similar trend is evident in figures showing the UK’s annual average maximum temperature.

Seven of top 10 annual average maximum temperatures since 1884 have occurred since the start of this century, with 2020 ranking in fourth place and 2018 seventh.

The year 2014 currently holds the record for the highest average maximum temperature, while 1976, often recalled for its long summer heatwave, ranks 42nd.

Fire services declare major incidents as record heat fuels blazes across UK

02:00 , Liam James

Emergency services in London, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire declared major incidents due to a surge in fires on the hottest day ever recorded in Britain.

Firefighters tackled at least 22 wildfires and hundreds of smaller fires across England and Wales as temperatures above 40C were recorded for the first time in the UK.

Here is a full recap of the fires that swept the country:

Fire services declare major incidents as record heat fuels blazes across UK

Drone photos show huge fire at Welsh beach as UK temperatures soar

03:00 , Liam James

Drone footage shows flames and smoke billowing from a hill above Newgale beach in Pembrokeshire, where blazes broke out on both Sunday and Monday (Andy Gregory writes).

Rou Chater, a 46-year-old surfer who captured the footage, was out on the water when he spotted the fire, which he described as “totally out of control” and “the biggest one the area has seen for some time”.

By the end of the day all of the ground towards a nearby campsite and surrounding a holiday home had burned, he said.

Drone photos show huge fire at Welsh beach as UK temperatures soar

Body of missing 14-year-old swimmer found in River Thames

04:00 , Liam James

Police have found the body of a 14-year-old boy who drowned while swimming in the River Thames.

The teenager is believed to have got into difficulty after entering the water at Tagg’s Island in Richmond, west London, on Monday during the UK’s record-breaking heatwave.

The Metropolitan Police first received reports of the incident at 4.43pm on Monday and officers headed to the scene along with paramedics and firefighters.

The three emergency services began a search with members of the public for the boy but called it off at 6.40pm without finding him.

Later in the evening police announced the boy was presumed to have drowned.

Another search was launched and the boy’s body was recovered from the river around 3.30pm on Tuesday.

Body of missing 14-year-old swimmer found in River Thames

Fires still burning across UK after temperatures hit 40C

04:56 , Stuti Mishra

Fires are continuing to ravage through houses and buildings across the UK after temperatures topped 40C in the UK for the first time ever.

A total of six sites, mostly in Greater London, saw temperatures reach or exceed 40C.

Scotland experienced its hottest day on record, with the temperature reaching 34.8C in Charterhall in the Scottish Borders, Met Office provisional figures showed.

Amid the sweltering heat, two “large-scale” incidents took place in Upminster and the village of Wennington, east London, where black smoke billowed into the air, while flames destroyed buildings and ravaged nearby fields.

Several other significant incidents also occurred in the capital, with people urged not to have barbecues or bonfires due to the “unprecedented” challenges crews face.

Read more:

Fires still burning across UK after temperatures hit 40C on hottest ever day

At least 10 people die in open water during UK’s searing heatwave

05:15 , Stuti Mishra

At least 10 people have died after getting into difficulty in water during the unprecedented heatwave currently gripping the UK.

A boy aged just 13 was the youngest person to lose his life in recent days and one charity warned that the toll may climb as schools break up for the summer holidays.

With temperatures hitting 40C in England for the first time in history on Tuesday, the Met Office had also put in place its first “red” alert for heat. It warned of “significantly more people visiting coastal areas, lakes and rivers, leading to an increased risk of water safety incidents”.

Read more:

At least 10 people have died in open water during UK’s searing heatwave

How heatwave is exposing scale of leadership vacuum on climate

05:34 , Stuti Mishra

Across Western Europe the newspaper front pages are all varying shades of red and yellow – the colours of the wildfire flames and weather-maps brought by a brutal, record-setting heatwave which is estimated to kill thousands of people, writes Harry Cockburn.

For decades, climate scientists have warned that rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel usage would mean more frequent and more ferocious heatwaves.

Yet emissions are still rising, and not one country has a coherent plan in place to rapidly wind down the pollution and divert us from the suicidal path we are being dragged down.

Read more:

Mass deaths and wildfires: Heatwave exposes scale of leadership vacuum on climate

Temperatures drop by over 10C as Met warns of heavy showers

06:26 , Stuti Mishra

A showery breakdown of the heat will take place today as temperatures are set to plummet over 10C with the Met office putting a yellow warning for thunderstorms in place for parts of south east, east and central England in the afternoon and evening.

It warns people to expect flooding or lightning strikes, delays and some cancellations to train and bus services, spray and sudden flooding, road closures and possible power cuts.

It will be fresher for most places, although some parts of East Anglia will still see temperatures reach as high as 30C.

The Met says today’s rain, where it occurs, will be much heavier than yesterday.

The latest satellite and radar imagery, tweeted by the Met, shows where rain pushed through last evening, with some lightning too.

Dramatic lightning strikes pictured as thunderstorms hit several parts

06:56 , Stuti Mishra

Dramatic images of lightning strikes were captured as showers and thunderstorms hit several parts of the UK last night after the hottest day ever recorded in the country’s history.

Photographer James Bell shared the photos of the lightning spotted in the night sky from Elmley, Kent.

The Met office has announced a yellow alert for thunderstorms today in parts of southeast, east and central England in the afternoon and evening.

Apocalyptic scenes of homes going up in flames dominate UK’s front pages

07:15 , Stuti Mishra

Britain’s record temperature of 40.3 which caused a huge surge in fires on Tuesday remains on the front pages of all leading newspapers with dire warnings of what’s to come as planet heats.

“The day Britain burned,” declares The Independent’s front page today, featuring an image of homes completely alight. The paper adds that 22 wildfires broke out within the space of a few hours yesterday.

Climate scientists call the historic temperature reading a “wake-up call” in The Guardian’s splash which includes experts calculating that “close to 1,000 people are likely to die as a result of the current hot spell”.

Metro, The Sun, the Daily Mirror, and the i carry similar scenes of homes engulfed by flames, accompanied by the respective headlines: “Burning hot Britain”, “Hellfire”, “Britain’s burning” and “Tinderbox UK ignites at record 40.3°C.”

Check out more front pages here:

What the papers say – July 20

‘Brutal’ heatwave a ‘game changer’ for fire services

07:39 , Emily Atkinson

“What the hell just happened?” asks a West Yorkshire Fire Service chief in the wake yesterday’s heatwave, who says that ferocious blazes akin to those in London shared widely in the media yesterday also “happened the length and breadth of England.”

Tuesday was a “game changer” for the fire service, DCFO Dave Walton tweets, adding: “It’s about demand for fire engines and firefighters far, far outstripping the numbers that any reasonable person would expect to available at any one time.

“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 continues: “Your Fire & Rescue Service staff are heroes - every one of them - but they can’t work miracles. Today was about climate change, the hottest UK day on record - EVER! If you don’t believe in climate change ask a firefighter who has been on duty in the last two days what they think about it.”

Read Mr Walton’s thread in full here:

Rail chaos continues as engineers race to repair damage after record heatwave

07:50 , Emily Atkinson

Commuters faced further chaos in the wake of the UK’s hottest ever day as Britain’s flagship rail line remains closed to and from London while engineers work to repair damage caused by extreme heat.

The East Coast main line, which links King’s Cross station in the capital with Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, was still closed south of Peterborough on Wednesday morning.

LNER, the leading train operator on the artery, said: “Due to urgent repairs to the railway between KingsCross and Peterborough, all lines are blocked.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has more:

Rail chaos continues as engineers race to repair damage after record heatwave

Government to ‘step in’ to help those affected by major fires

08:00 , Emily Atkinson

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, has promised that the government will “step in” to help families hit by major blazes sparked by the extreme heat.

In particular, two “large-scale” incidents took place in Upminster and the village of Wennington, in east London on Tuesday as temperatures surged to record-breaking levels across the UK.

He did not say specifically what help the government might provide to those without insurance, whose homes or belongings were destroyed.

“The government will stand by people who need assistance,” he told Sky News.

“The government will be looking carefully at what we can do to make sure that everyone receives the support they need.

“And obviously, the first thing is to make sure that they have the support in the very immediate term - people may have lost all their belongings, their identity documents.

“I know our local councils will be stepping up to look after people who’ve been affected across the country by fires, but clearly central government stands ready as always to step in as needed.”

PA

London heatwave leads to firefighters’ busiest day since WW2

08:16 , Emily Atkinson

Sixteen firefighters were injured fighting fires in the capital in the busiest day for London’s Fire Bridgade (LFB) since World War 2, according to Sadiq Khan.

Operating in 40C heat on Tuesday, firefighters took an estimated 2,600 emergency calls and responded to over 1,000 fire calls, the London mayor told Sky News.

“On a normal day the fire service receives - roughly speaking - 350 calls, and on a busy day 500 calls,” he added.

Of those firefighters who suffered from “heat-related injuries”, two were hospitalised, LFB assistant commissioner Jonathan Smith said. Both have since been released.

Mr Smith added that, although the weather is now cooler, the ground is “still absolutely tinder-box dry” and he warned people not to have barbecues in parks or discard glass on the ground where it could catch fire if hit by the sun’s rays.

Lincolnshire fire service stands down major incident status

08:24 , Emily Atkinson

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service said it had stood down its major incident status after what it described as “searing” conditions on Tuesday.

The service said in a social media post: “We have now stood down from major incident status, and whilst we still have crews at some incidents this morning, we have returned to business as usual.

“With conditions remaining dry for some time, we’re appealing to our communities to remain vigilant.

“Please follow the advice we have given especially around outdoor fires - avoiding the use of campfires and barbeques unless they’re on a designated hardstanding area, and being especially careful to dispose of cigarettes and glass properly.”

08:37 , Emily Atkinson

Images capture the smouldering ruins of houses and surrounding landscape after a series of grass fires broke out in Wennington, England amid an intense heatwave.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
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(Getty Images)

Tory leadership candidates ‘not talking about climate change’, says London mayor

08:50 , Emily Atkinson

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is “angry” that the Tory leadership candidates are not prioritising tackling climate change despite the heatwave demonstrating the consequences.

He told Sky News: “One of the things that really makes me angry is that, what we’ve seen in the last few days, this extreme weather, this heatwave.

“At the same time there’s a leadership contest to choose the next prime minister, and no-one’s talking about the elephant in the room, which is climate change causing the heatwave where temperatures are exceeding 40C.

“We’ve got a situation where we have heatwaves every two or three years rather than every 10 or 15 years.

“What we should be doing is dealing with the consequences of climate change and air quality, but also dealing with the causes as well.

“What we’re doing in London is dealing with the causes of climate change and air quality by having policies that reduce carbon emissions, reduce particulate matter - like the Ultra Low Emission Zone - planting record numbers of trees, having water fountains across our cities, air-conditioned new trains, but what we need is support from the government as well, because we can’t do it alone.”

Khan urges Londoners to avoid barbecues and jumping into water

09:03 , Emily Atkinson

Londoners have been urged not to have barbecues on Wednesday despite temperatures dropping, because the grass is still dry and will allow fire to spread rapidly if it catches alight.

The capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, told Sky News: “These are exceptional times and, because of the ease with which grass is catching fire and the speed at which it spreads, we are advising people not to have barbecues - not to have barbecues on your balcony, parks, or in your private garden for today.

“None of us wants to be a party pooper, but how would you feel if you had a barbecue in your back garden, and some of the grass, which is like hay, caught fire and it spread, damaged your property and spread to your neighbours?

“Our firefighters are working incredibly hard, they were the heroes yesterday, and they need some respite as well.

“A very simple thing we can do is just another day without a barbecue, and please also, if you’re near water, don’t be tempted to jump in, whether it’s the Thames, whether it’s a canal, or whether it’s other forms of water.”

Latest from the Met Office:

09:17 , Emily Atkinson

Aerial shots capture devastation in Wennington, east London

09:30 , Emily Atkinson

 (PA)
(PA)
 (PA)
(PA)
 (PA)
(PA)

Protestors scale motorway signs in response to ‘inadequate’ heatwave prepartion

09:41 , Emily Atkinson

Just Stop Oil activists are scaling motorway signs on the M25 in response to the extreme temperatures in the UK and the government’s “inadequate preparations” for climate change.

PA adds:

One group of activists at junction 10 eastbound near Cobham, Surrey, on Wednesday morning said they will climb the gantries that support overhead motorway information signs.

The environmental protest group said more members are on their way, as part of planned action between Wednesday and Friday.

A spokesperson from Just Stop Oil said: “The main thing is, we’ve just seen 40-degree temperatures, which have been predicted for decades, maybe it’s happening a bit faster, but it has just revealed how inadequate the Government’s preparations for climate change are and their entire policy, and basically, we’re just saying, it’s evident now we cannot continue.”

The group demands the government make a “meaningful statement” that they will commit to stop licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK, which they say is “the necessary first step to ensuring a liveable future.”

Heatwave travel chaos continues

09:54 , Emily Atkinson

Police ‘dealing with’ Just Stop Oil protest on M25

10:07 , Emily Atkinson

Surrey Police said officers were dealing with the Just Stop Oil protest on the M25.

A statement said: “We’re dealing with a protest on the M25 just past junction 10 of the anti-clockwise carriageway this morning. Three lanes are currently closed.

“We will keep you informed of further updates. In the meantime please avoid the area.”

According to he National Highways website, the action has caused nine-mile tailbacks on the M25 anti-clockwise, leading to warnings of delays of more than an hour.

Here’s what the protesters have to say:

M25 blocked as climate protesters declare it ‘site of civil resistance’ after hottest day in history

10:12 , Emily Atkinson

Climate protest group Just Stop Oil has halted traffic on the M25 this morning, declaring the London Orbital motorway a “site of civil resistance” following record breaking temperatures on Tuesday.

The group has said it is aiming to block the motorway from Wednesday until Friday, demanding the UK government immediately ends licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

Our environment correspondent Harry Cockburn has this breaking story:

M25 blocked as climate protesters declare it ‘site of civil resistance’

Heatwave: Fire crews still battling blazes after ‘busiest day since World War Two’

10:27 , Emily Atkinson

Firefighters are still working to extinguish fires that caused devastation on the UK’s hottest day on record.

A number of fire services declared major incidents on Tuesday as the number of blazes and demand surged during the heatwave.

Blazes destroyed houses and wildfires burned acres of land across the country on what has been called London Fire Brigade’s busiest day since the Second World War.

Zoe Tidman reports:

Heatwave: Fire crews still battling blazes after ‘busiest day since World War Two’

10:35 , Emily Atkinson

Highways England have tweeted a travel alert regarding delays on the M25 sparked by Just Stop Oil protestors.

It said: “There are delays of over an hour on the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey due to an ongoing Surrey Police led incident within J10 (for A3, Guildford). 3 lanes (of 4) are currently closed.

“If this incident impacts on your planned route, please allow extra journey time as there is over nine miles of congestion on approach. Plan ahead, you may wish to re-route or even delay your journey.”

Three quarters worried about climate crisis with concern 40C heatwave is ‘serious health issue’

10:48 , Emily Atkinson

Three-quarters of people in Britain are worried about the worsening climate crisis and want more government action to tackle it, a poll has found, as the country sweltered in 40C temperatures that fuelled fires across the country.

The survey by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, which supports informed debate on energy and climate change in the UK, found 70 per cent of the public agreed that climate change was a driver of the recent heatwave, with only 17 per cent saying they didn’t believe it was a factor.

The Independent’s climate correspondent Saphora Smith has more:

Three quarters worried about climate crisis amid record 40C temperatures

Cambridge University Botanic Garden announces new record temperature

11:01 , Emily Atkinson

Cambridge University Botanic Garden has recorded its peak temperature for Tuesday as 39.9C - higher than the previous UK heat record of 38.7C set there in 2019 - but lower than the current provisional record of 40.3C set in Coningsby, Lincolnshire yesterday.

The attraction said in a tweet that the 39.9C high was reached at 2.02pm yesterday.

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Speaking after readings for the previous 24-hour period were taken, at 10am on Wednesday, the attraction’s director, Prof Beverley Glover, said: “We are dismayed by the high temperatures recorded and incredibly concerned at the implications for plants, people and the planet.

“This acts as a severe reminder that we all need to be taking climate change and its impact very seriously.”

More women ‘could die’ in UK heatwave than men, expert warns

11:19 , Emily Atkinson

More women could die in the UK heatwave than men due to being “more vulnerable” to hot temperatures, an expert has said.

The UK recorded its hottest temperature in history before midday on Tuesday - with temperatures climbing to over 40C (104F).

Mike Tipson, Professor of Human and Applied Physiology at the Extreme Environments Laboratories, told The Independent women appear to be more at risk in heatwaves for both physiological and sociological reasons.

Our women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim reports:

More women ‘could die’ in UK heatwave than men, expert warns

Fire service ‘stretched to limit'

11:35 , Emily Atkinson

The fire service was “stretched to the limit” in its reponse to the incidents sparked by extreme temperatures, which a trade union has blamed on major government cuts jobs.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said its resources have been “under attack by government cuts for over a decade”, adding that 11,500 firefighter jobs have been slashed since 2010.

Firefighters have been asked to give up leave to assist because of staff shortages and there have been a number of injuries to FBU members over the past two days, including hospital admissions, the union added.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have warned of the growing threat for years but our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. The brutal truth is that government ministers and chief fire officers have ignored the warning signs which have been obvious for all to see.

“The stark reality is that frontline firefighters and local communities have been let down by a combined failure of chief fire officers and politicians to face up to the scale of the challenge. It is simply untrue to say they have not been warned year after year of the risks posed by climate change.

“The same people then tell frontline firefighters to tighten their belts and accept a cut in their pay.”

Johnson thanks ‘tremendous efforts’ of fire service

11:59 , Emily Atkinson

12:10 , Emily Atkinson

Addressing the House of Commons, Sir Keir Starmer offered his thanks to the fire service and extended the party’s thoughts to those affected by Tuesday’s fires, including those who have lost their homes.

Wennington fires ‘like a scene from the Blitz, says resident

12:30 , Emily Atkinson

The scene at a smouldering village on the outskirts of London, which saw some of yesterday’s most devastating fires, has been described by a resident as being “like the Blitz”.

Around 19 houses were destroyed after fires first seen in back gardens rapidly tore through rows of houses in Wennington.

Resident Tim Stock, who lost his family home of 60 years in the blaze, said: “It was like a warzone. Down the actual main road, all the windows had exploded out, all the rooves had caved, it was like a scene from the Blitz really.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“It’s heartbreaking really. I mean, I’ve been there 41 years but my granddad was there before me, so we’ve been there 60-odd years,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“And to see it all fall apart yesterday, it’s really sad. But as I said, we’ll get the site cleared, fit up a kind of mobile home there, and we’ll start again.”

Met Office directs motorists to advice on driving in storms

12:50 , Emily Atkinson

The Met Office is directing motorists to their recommendations regarding driving in storms as heavy showers and thunder threaten to bubble up in parts of England this afternoon.

Here’s what they advise:

If you are caught out in thunder and lightning it is advised that you wind up the windows and stay inside your car. This is because in the vast majority of cars with a metal roof and frame, the frame will act as a conductive Faraday cage, passing the current around the passengers inside and on to the ground.

  • Soft-top convertibles, with their fabric roofs, are the most at risk and could catch fire if struck by lightning

  • Be aware that current can travel through other parts of many modern cars, including GPS and radio systems. Cars with metal interior handles, foot pedals and steering wheels can also carry current

  • Cars can be damaged both internally and externally by lightning strikes

Thunderstorms can also bring a risk of sudden gusty winds, those most at risk would include cyclists, motorcyclists and high sided vehicles.

  • Remember to give vulnerable road users including cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians more room than usual. They are more likely to be blown around by side winds – always keep a safe distance.

  • Keep your speed down, lowering your speed will lower the distance you travel when buffeted around by the wind.

For more information on how to protect yourself in a thunderstrm, visit thier dedicated webpage here.

‘Clearly insane to take a disposable barbecue onto dry grass,’ says PM

13:10 , Emily Atkinson

Boris Johnson said it is “clearly insane to take a disposable barbeque onto dry grass” in response to calls for the government to get rid of disposable barbeques and Chinese sky lanterns.

Conservative former minister Caroline Nokes said: “My right honourable friend rightly paid tribute to our hardworking fire fighters dealing with the fires over the last few days in this unprecedented weather.

“Will my right honourable friend take action to make sure more fires can be prevented by getting rid of disposable barbeques and Chinese sky lanterns?”

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Addressing MPs for the final time as prime minister from the Commons despatch box, Mr Johnson said: “I think the key thing is for people to behave responsibly first with the use of these things. It’s clearly insane to take a disposable barbecue onto dry grass.”

Fire breaks out in 18-storey block

13:28 , Emily Atkinson

Around 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines have been called to tackle a blaze at a block of flats in east London’s docklands.

London Fire Brigade said its crews were tacking the blaze on Manwood Street in North Greenwich which appears to be at the top of a block with at around 18 storeys.

Labour urges Cop 26president to ‘repudiate’ Sunak’s onshore wind ban plans

13:30 , Emily Atkinson

Labour has urged Cop26 president Alok Sharma to “repudiate” Rishi Sunak’s position that he will “double down on the onshore wind ban”.

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband said: “He says all the candidates are committed. Only this morning the right honourable member for Richmond (Mr Sunak), the front-runner in the leadership race, said he will double down on the onshore wind ban because of and I quote, the distress and disruption onshore wind causes.

“What is causing distress is the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation. What is causing disruption is the most extreme weather in our country’s history, and onshore wind is a vital tool in tackling these crises.

“Yet the bizarre state of the Tory Party means the former chancellor panders to the fanatics and sides with the sceptics. Will the president now repudiate this position and condemn it for the dangerous nonsense it is?”

Mr Sharma replied: “I am not really in a position to repudiate anybody else’s proposals. If I may, what I would say to him is that we have a very clear plan in terms of expanding offshore wind. There’s another 32 gigawatts... There are another 32 gigawatts which is effectively in the pipeline.

“I think in terms of solving the energy security strategy, we need to keep everything on the table. There is already 14 gigawatts of onshore installed across the country. And I think where communities are positively welcoming onshore in return for reduced bills, that is an issue that we should keep on the table.”

UK must learn to live with extreme weather events, says cabinet minister

13:50 , Emily Atkinson

The UK “must learn to live with extreme events such as these”, cabinet office minister Kit Malthouse has said.

He told the Commons: “We do recognise that we are likely to experience more of these incidents and that we should not underestimate their speed, scope and severity.

“Britain may be unaccustomed to such high temperatures but the UK, along with our European neighbours, must learn to live with extreme events such as these.

“The government has been at the forefront of the international efforts to reach net zero, but the impacts of climate change are with us now.

“This is why we have a national adaptation programme under the leadership of the Environment Department. As we have seen in recent days, we will continue to face acute events driven by climate change. It is the responsibility of the cabinet office ministers to co-ordinate work across government when these events take place.”

He noted the national resilience strategy will be launched “at the earliest possible opportunity by the incoming administration”.

Greenwich fire: 100 firefighters tackle blazes at 18-storey flat and grass below

13:58 , Emily Atkinson

Some 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines have rushed to tackle a blaze at a block of flats in London’s docklands.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said its crews were tacking the fire on Manwood Street in North Greenwich which appears to be at the top of a block with at around 18 storeys.

A flat on the 17th floor of the building is alight, the fire service said, while firefighters are also tackling a second fire involving around one hectare of grass opposite the block.

Read more on this developing story here:

Greenwich fire: 100 firefighters tackle blazes at 18-storey flat and grass below

‘It was like a sauna’: Overheating passengers abandon train stuck in tunnel and walk to platform along tracks

14:10 , Emily Atkinson

Passengers abandoned a train stuck in a tunnel at Birmingham New Street and walked along the tracks to the platform yesterday.

The West Midlands Railway train was travelling from Lichfield to New Street on Tuesday afternoon when it came to a halt after overhead powerlines became damaged by the extreme heat.

Passengers were stuck on board the train for over an hour before several of them decided to disembark and walk along the railway line to the platform.

Aisha Rimi reports:

‘Like a sauna’: Fed up passengers abandon train stuck in tunnel and walk along tracks

Met Office extends thunderstorm warning further north

14:30 , Emily Atkinson

Watch: 100 firefighters tackle blazes at 18-storey block of flats in Woolwich

14:50 , Emily Atkinson

Woman arrested after Just Oil Protest

15:18 , Emily Atkinson

A 22-year-old woman has been arrested after a Just Stop Oil protest on the M25 caused nine-mile tailbacks.

In a statement, Surrey Police said: Officers were called just after 7am this morning following reports of a protest on the M25 just past junction 10 of the anti-clockwise carriageway.

“Officers attended the scene and located a female protester sitting on top of a gantry over the motorway. Three lanes needed to be closed while we worked to safely remove the woman, which involved a specialist team trained in dealing with incidents at height.

“A 22-year-old woman from London, has been arrested on suspicion of causing a danger to road users, causing a public nuisance, and for being a pedestrian on the motorway.

“We appreciate this caused significant disruption this morning and want to thank drivers for their patience while we dealt with the incident. National Highways has since reopened all lanes on this part of the M25.”

PA

Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital warn of appointment delays as heatwave disrupts IT services

15:40 , Emily Atkinson

The heatwave has caused significant disruption to the IT and phone systems at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust - and the hospital is warning it could cause delays to appointments.

A spokesperson for the London hospital said: “As a result of the extreme temperatures yesterday we have experienced significant disruption to our IT systems, which has had an impact on our services today.

“While the majority of appointments have gone ahead, unfortunately we have had to postpone some operations and appointments and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

“The trust has well established business continuity plans to allow us to continue as much activity as possible and to ensure that patient safety is prioritised at all times.

“Our teams are working around the clock to fix these problems as soon as possible.”

UK faces more wildfires, says minister – but government delays plan for emergencies

16:00 , Emily Atkinson

Britain is likely to face more heatwaves and wildfires because of climate change and “must learn to live with extreme events”, said Cabinet Office minister Kit Malthouse.

But he admitted that a plan to make the country more resilience to the climate crisis and other emergencies would be delayed until the new prime minister is installed at No 10.

Labour claimed the government had gone “missing while Britain burns” during the recent heatwave which saw record temperatures and dozens of homes destroyed in wildfires.

Adam Forrest reports:

UK faces more wildfires, says minister – but emergency plan delayed

Watch: Drone footage shows devastation as homes destroyed by fire in Wennington

16:10 , Emily Atkinson

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