London’s firefighting authority declared a major incident in the British capital on Tuesday (July 19) in response to the surge in fires amid a record-breaking heatwave in Britain and Europe.
The London Fire Brigade said it had deployed dozens of fire tenders to several blazes in and around the city, including 30 to a grass fire in east London. Television footage showed one blaze engulfing several homes in the village of Wennington to the east of the capital.
Britain recorded its highest ever temperature, breaking 40C (104F) for the first time, as a heatwave gripping Europe intensified, scorching fields and damaging airport runways and train tracks.
London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said the past 48 hours had taken its toll on the service with multiple fires breaking out across the capital.
Smith said what was once regarded a once in a generation incident is now becoming far more regular.
London mayor Sadiq Khan voiced concern over the long delays it took fire brigades to respond to some calls, with its typical response time of six minutes being pushed to more than 20 minutes for the first fire trucks to arrive at a scene due to high demand.
“It’s simply not possible for the London Fire Brigade to respond to all these fires if they continue at this pace,” added Khan.