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Homes Destroyed By Wildfires Across London On Hottest Day

London: 

Several homes have been destroyed in wildfires in parts of London, which experienced extreme heat as temperatures crossed 40 degrees Celsius for the first time on record.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the firefighters of the UK capital had experienced their busiest 24 hours since the Second World War, yesterday, which has been officially recorded as the hottest day ever for the country at 40.3 degrees Celsius.

Overall, the emergency services responded to 2,600 calls for help related to the heatwave, which has abated somewhat today with thundery showers forecast for the capital.

“A number of these fires are grass fires. The problem is we’ve not had rain in the entire month of July in London,” Mr Khan told the BBC.

“The grass is like hay, which means it’s easier to catch fire. Once it catches, fire spreads incredibly fast like wildfires, like you see in movies or in fires in California and parts of France. My advice today is again, not to have barbecues- of course not on balconies, of course not in parks, nor in your private garden,” he said.

At least 41 homes are believed to have been damaged in the wildfires on the outskirts of London, with the London Fire Brigade declaring it a “major incident”. Hundreds of people were evacuated and many taken to hospital.

Firefighters were inundated with calls in other parts of the UK as well yesterday, with one fire chief calling it a “brutal” day.

“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,” said Dave Walton, deputy chief fire officer for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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“We’ve seen the kind of conditions faced by international colleagues just miles from our capital city, and in towns, villages and cities the length and breadth of the country. Today was about climate change, the hottest UK day on record- ever,” he said.

“I’ve been in the fire service for over 30 years now and yesterday was just about the busiest I’ve ever seen the fire and rescue service in that time. The images that we saw yesterday remind me of what I’ve seen in California, Australia and southern Europe in recent years, and not so much in the UK,” added Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

Meanwhile, other public services are hobbling back to normal on Wednesday, as many trains were cancelled or delayed across England because of damage to overhead wires, tracks, and signalling systems. National Rail has urged customers to check before setting off on their journeys and to only travel if absolutely necessary.

A total of six sites, mostly in Greater London, saw temperatures reach or exceed 40C on the UK’s hottest day. Scotland experienced its hottest day on record, with the temperature reaching 34.8C in Charterhall in the Scottish Borders.

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