New data shows a major increase in grass, rubbish and open land fires in London compared to last year, prompting an urgent warning from firefighters as the second heatwave of the summer starts.
An amber warning for extreme heat between today and Sunday across parts of the country including London has been issued by the Met Office. A lack of rainfall in July and August means grass is extremely dry and the Met Office’s Fire Severity Index shows an exceptional risk in London from tomorrow.
London Fire Brigade’s Control Room has mobilised thousands of firefighters to 340 grass, rubbish and open land fires during the first week of August – an eightfold increase on the 42 during the same week last year.
Resources are in place for the heatwave, but firefighters are again asking people to take action during the dry weather to prevent fires from happening in the first place.
Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said: “This summer has seen an unprecedented long, dry spell with high temperatures so the grass in London is tinderbox dry and the smallest of sparks can start a blaze which could cause devastation.
“Despite our continued warning over the last few weeks, we know there are still people who are barbecuing in parks, dropping cigarettes out of car windows and leaving rubbish lying around.
“We really need to prevent a repeat of the situation we saw on July 19, when homes, shops, garages, outbuildings and vehicles were destroyed across London in a number of significant fires.
“So please – we are asking Londoners to help us protect the city we all love by doing everything you can to prevent further grass fires. Please don’t barbecue in open spaces or balconies, throw your rubbish away safely and put your cigarettes out properly.”
In recent weeks, the number of calls that London Fire Brigade’s control room officers have taken has also significantly increased. Between 18 July and 7 August this year, 18,603 calls were taken compared to 12,102 calls in the same period last year.
Earlier this week, Thames Water announced it intends to introduce a hosepipe ban in the coming weeks. London Fire Brigade is also asking people to be careful with their use of water to support our work tackling fires later this summer.