Jul 19, 2022 - World

London declares "major incident" after fires break out during record heat

Smoke from fires in a residential area in Wennington, England, on July 19.
Smoke from fires in a residential area in Wennington, England, on July 19. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The London Fire Brigade on Tuesday declared a "major incident" after several fires broke out in the greater London area amid unprecedented high temperatures brought about by a climate-change-induced heat wave.

Driving the news: Multiple homes and buildings were destroyed by a blaze in Wennington, England, while 110 fire engines were responding to at least 10 fires across London on Tuesday afternoon.

  • It was unknown exactly how many buildings were destroyed by the blaze in Wennington and the greater London area in general.
  • Aerial images and footage showed a grassfire in Wennington spreading toward several buildings, including homes.

What they're saying: London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Tuesday the London Fire Brigade "is under immense pressure" because of the fires and warned people to immediately report fires and not grill outdoors.

  • "On a normal day, the fire brigade would receive between 300 and 350 calls for assistance. Today, already, they've received more than 1,600 calls for assistance," Khan told SkyNews.
  • "The reason why we've called a major incident is we simply can't cope with the number of fires across our city directly attributable to the heat wave we're experiencing," Khan added.
  • London has "probably never seen weather-related incidents, particularly to do with heat, on this scale before," Jonathan Smith, assistant commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, told SkyNews.
Burned buildings and smoke from a fire in a residential area in Wennington, England, on July 19.
Burned buildings and smoke from a fire in a residential area in Wennington, England, on July 19. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The big picture: The fires ignited the same day the U.K. broke its national record for the highest temperature ever registered, with a provisional reading of 104.36°F (40.2°C) at London's Heathrow Airport, Axios' Ivana Saric and Andrew Freedman report.

Go deeper: 40 million under heat warnings as 89 large fires rage across U.S.

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