John the ‘wake-up bell’ about climate change, firefighters warn after record heat

The outbreak of hundreds of fires amid record temperatures has been seen as a “wake-up call” on climate change, as the UK counts the cost of the heatwave.

As temperatures rose above 40C for the first time on Tuesday, major fire incidents were declared in London, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire in dry conditions.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) had its busiest day since World War II as record temperatures led to hundreds of fires across the capital, with the service receiving 2,670 calls.

There were no deaths but more than 40 homes and shops were destroyed after a number of significant grass fires spread to nearby buildings, including in Wennington, Dagenham and Kenton, the LFB said.

Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said: “Yesterday’s fires are another example of how we are increasingly challenged by new extremes as our climate changes and we are develop long-term strategies to deal with more incidents like this in the future.”

Bosses at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is close to a major incident, have warned the situation across the country on Tuesday will not be a one-off and the UK needs to be “prepared” “.

Deputy Fire Chief Dave Walton said: “Yesterday was a game changer and took us to the next level. Fires are spreading faster than ever.”

This is a very different position we are in now than it was only almost 50 years ago and we need to take this as a wake-up call.

Normally, when there’s a big fire, you can call nearby services to help, he said, but on Tuesday “everyone was busy”.

“The prediction is that we will get heatwaves like this more often, even every three years at most, due to climate change.

“This is a very different position we are in now than it was almost 50 years ago, and we need to see this as a wake-up call.

“We need to learn how we prepare as a nation for this, and how we rethink the resources we have or need, so that we are ready for this,” he warned. these things, so that houses, property and ultimately human lives are saved.

(Graphics PA) (Graphics PA)

In South Yorkshire, there were severe fires in Barnsley and Clayton, while firefighters in Norfolk were called to more than 80 incidents on Tuesday.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue said it was called to more than 60 incidents, 38 of which were outdoor fires, describing the situation as “unprecedented”.

The UK recorded a new temporary high temperature of 40.3 degrees Celsius in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday, far exceeding the previous record set in Cambridge in 2019 of 38.7.

There are also provisional records for Scotland – 35.1C at Castle Floors in Roxburghshire on Tuesday – and Wales, where a high of 37.1C was recorded at Hawarden, Clwyd, on Monday.

Heatwaves are being made stronger, more frequent and longer-lasting as a result of climate change, and scientists say it will be “virtually impossible” for the UK as temperatures rise to 40C without human-driven global warming.

Scientists also warn that climate change is increasing the risk of fires across the UK, and people need to be prepared for it.

Increased heat waves increase health risks, with high temperatures putting the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions and children particularly at risk for serious illness or death, and potentially wide-spread effects more broadly to the population.

Record high temperatures overnight were also witnessed during the heatwave, which put additional strain on people’s health as their bodies were unable to recover from hot days with colder nights.

London Ambulance Service said it made the equivalent of a call every 13 seconds during two extreme heat days, with 10 times more heat-related incidents than last week and the number of people fainting fainting increased by 8%.

NHS bosses have warned that the health service’s “ruined” buildings are failing to adapt to the heatwave, leaving hospitals forced to reduce planned operations and install units cool down and try to cool down the IT server rooms.

(Graphics PA) (Graphics PA)

A spokesman for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said on Wednesday that it experienced significant disruption to its IT systems due to Tuesday’s heat, which meant it was forced to postpone some activities and appointments.

On rail lines, there was constant disruption on Wednesday, with dozens of trains canceled or delayed across Britain due to problems caused by extreme heat.

There is likely to be no respite from severe weather, with a yellow thunderstorm warning in place over large swaths of England from noon to 10pm on Wednesday.

The Met Office says while many places will see only relatively small amounts of rain, some slow-moving torrential downpours are still possible.

In places where it occurs, there can be 20-30 mm (0.8-1.1 inches) of rain in an hour and in some spots 50 mm (2 inches) in three hours.

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