Amid Unprecedented Heat Wave, London Homes Burn

At least 40 residences were destroyed by blazes that swept UK's capital, injuring 16 firefighters
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2022 8:27 AM CDT
Amid Unprecedented Heat Wave, London Homes Burn
A blaze is seen in the village of Wennington, on the outskirts of London, on Wednesday.   (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)

Britain saw its hottest day yet on record Tuesday, soaring past 104 degrees during a heat wave that's taken hold across other parts of Europe as well, but the country's capital was forced to deal with more than just sweating citizens. The London Fire Brigade described a "major incident" that broke out in the city as a result of the sweltering temps: burning buildings, leading Mayor Sadiq Khan to implore residents not to barbecue or call for firefighters unless absolutely necessary during the "critical" situation, reports the New York Times. "On a normal day, the London Fire Brigade receives around 350 calls," Khan tweeted. "Yesterday they had over 2,600."

The mayor noted that upward of 40 homes were destroyed by the fires, with firefighters forced into their busiest day since World War II, per the London Times. He added in his tweet: "These are not the records we should be breaking. This is a climate emergency and we need real and urgent action now." He blamed the problem partly on parched grass that's easily catching a spark, noting that once it does catch, it "spreads incredibly fast ... like you see in movies or in fires in California and parts of France," per the Times. A rep from the fire department said that at least 16 firefighters were hurt, two seriously enough to be hospitalized (they've since been treated and released), as they fought the blazes across the city.

The UK's weather service, known as the Met Office, warned that the risk for wildfires across the entire island nation was "exceptional." By Wednesday, the London situation had been brought somewhat under control, with the fire service reporting "the major incident has now been stood down" and weather forecasts calling for incoming thunderstorms and cooler weather that would hopefully bring some respite. Even once this scorcher is over, Live Science notes that weather situations like this "are likely to become even more extreme and unpredictable as [the] Earth warms due to climate change." (More London stories.)

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