London’s fire service had its busiest day since World War Two dealing with several blazes in record-breaking temperatures on Tuesday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said.
The city was one of 15 areas around the UK to declare a major incident.
The fires started on a day which saw a record temperature of 40.3C in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
The forecast is still warm but cooler on Wednesday but there are warnings in place for thunderstorms.
A yellow warning has been issued by the Met Office for heavy showers and thunderstorms which could bring disruption in eastern and south-east England this afternoon.
The weather is also continuing to affect transport. Network Rail said on Wednesday there were no direct trains between London and Scotland, due to damage to overhead electric lines on the West Coast mainline.
Mr Khan said London Fire Brigade (LFB) received 2,600 calls as it dealt with multiple wildfires across the capital.
In Wennington, east London, 100 firefighters tackled a blaze which destroyed several homes.
LFB said two rows of terraced houses, four other homes, 12 stables and five cars were destroyed by the blaze, while one firefighter at the scene described it as “absolute hell”.
“Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the Second World War,” Mr Khan said.
“Normally we get 350 calls a day, on a busy day we can get up to 500 calls. Yesterday the fire service had more than 2,600 calls a day.”
The mayor has advised Londoners not to have BBQs in parks or private gardens due to concerns about the risk of grass setting alight.
He added: “The grass is like hay, which means its easier to catch fire, and once it catches fire it spreads incredibly fast like wildfires like you see in movies or like you see in California.”
Elsewhere in the UK, a number of homes were destroyed by fire in Norfolk, while major incidents were also declared in places including Leicestershire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
Heatwaves have become more frequent, more intense, and last longer because of human-induced climate change, and that hot, dry weather is likely to fuel wildfires.
The world has already warmed by about 1.1°C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.
⚠️ LATEST PICTURES FROM DARTFORD FIRE: London Fire Brigade have declared a major incident as several serious fires burn across the capital. This is the scene at the A2 outside #Dartford Video: Tim Cross pic.twitter.com/Vnf38OFVfB
— Maritime Radio (@maritimeLDN) July 19, 2022
40 degrees in the UK is not normal.
Multiple fires across London is not normal.
It's time to listen to the science and ditch fossil fuels. Now.pic.twitter.com/v9zcs8RGGZ
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) July 19, 2022
A bus in London caught fire because of the recent heat wave 😱
— Essa Alamri (@Ess8a) July 19, 2022
London is burning and it’s crazy to just see it in front of me. Took 30 minutes for a police car to arrive and about 45 minutes for a fire brigade to arrive. By then two homes and many cars went up in flames. pic.twitter.com/hoJhWfuRNP
— Dina💛 (@Namdinsss) July 19, 2022