An Essex family of five who “lost everything” after fires in Wennington destroyed their home have been showered with donations to get themselves back on their feet.
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 on the hottest UK day ever.
Black smoke billowed into the air as the blaze spread, while a rescue centre for residents was set up.
The Taylor family, who live in Wennington, lost their home and possessions, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help them.
Carly McNab, who set up the fundraiser, says Claire and Antony Taylor have three boys – aged six, eight and 18 months – and are “absolutely heartbroken by the devastation and destruction caused by the fires”.
She revealed that two of the boys only have the clothes they were wearing when they went to school before the fire destroyed their home.
Over £1,000 has been raised so far for the family but donations continue to pour in.
Fires continued to ravage through houses and buildings across the UK overnight after temperatures topped 40C in the UK for the first time ever.
Watch: Drone footage shows scale of Wennington fire
A new record for the hottest day ever seen, of 40.3C, was recorded in Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, on Tuesday afternoon – beating the previous record of 38.7C in Cambridge three years ago, by 1.6C.
Amid the sweltering heat, major incidents were announced by fire brigades in London, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire as dozens of fires broke out amid the sweltering heat – with flames ripping through houses, schools and churches.
Locals in Wennington were asking council and fire officials about whether their pets had been rescued and if their homes were still standing.
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.
The pair were trying to find their pet dog and cat with Ms Maceikaite saying: “The firefighters said if they heard a bark they would potentially break a door and if they’ve been rescued they supposed to have been brought here but in the main hotel they say they don’t know nothing about that.”
Resident Janet Hickey, 70, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, said she was forced to leave all her cancer drugs behind as they were evacuated.
She said: “I’ve got all my cancer drugs in the fridge.”
Her husband Patrick Hickey, 71, added: “We had to leave everything.”
“We’re hoping against hope that our house is still there,” he added.
Mrs Hickey said they are feeling “devastated”, adding: “We’ve been living there 50 years.
“I’m terminally ill so it’s not great to lose all that. I’m also an artist and all my paintings are there.”
The Met Office said there would be a showery and thundery breakdown of the heat on Wednesday, with 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.
Wednesday’s rain, where it occurs, will be much heavier than on Tuesday.