Firefighters remain unaware of the full extent of the damage caused by blazes which destroyed houses, cars and stables across London yesterday, with crews describing scenes as “absolute hell”.

Residents were evacuated from their homes and people were taken to hospital amid raging wildfires in the capital, as temperatures soared to more than 40C.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) declared a "major incident" in light of the surge, which saw them receive more than 1,600 calls for assistance by late Tuesday afternoon.

The fires

Two “large-scale” incidents took place in Wennington village and in Upminster, while there were multiple other fires across the capital.

People have been instructed not to have barbecues or bonfires due to the “unprecedented” challenges crews face.

%image(14503969, type="article-full", alt="The scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington, east London. London Fire Brigade has declared a major incident due to "a huge surge" in blazes across the capital amid the 40C heat. Picture date: Tuesday July 19, 2022")


About 100 firefighters tackled a fire on The Green and Kent View which destroyed two detached houses, two semi-detached houses, two rows of terraced houses, two outbuildings, six single-storey garages, 12 stables and five cars.

%image(14503652, type="article-full", alt="Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in the village of Wennington, east London. London Fire Brigade declared a major incident due to "a huge surge" in blazes across the capital amid the 40C heat. Picture date: Tuesday July 19, 2022.")

Another detached property was badly damaged as a result of the blaze, which affected about 40 hectares of grassland, farm buildings, houses and garages.

Almost 90 properties were evacuated, while a firefighter at the scene described the conditions as "absolute hell".


A total of 175 firefighters dealt with a grass fire in Pea Lane which saw smoke billow across the M25.


Two people were taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation as about 100 firefighters tackled a fire in Ballards Road.

This blaze destroyed several semi-detached houses in Stratford Close, while others in Boleyn Gardens, Beech Gardens and Farm Close were also affected.

Eight hectares of parkland was damaged and about 25 vehicles were destroyed.


A total of 80 firefighters tackled a fire in The Broadway which saw shops and outbuildings alight.

Fifty people were evacuated, and gas cylinders - which can explode when expose to heat - were removed.

Chadwell Heath

Forty firefighters battled a fire at a semi-detached house in Fauna Close which saw its first floor and roof destroyed.

Other incidents

Other incidents across the capital included a fire involving garden fencing and trees in Uxbridge Road, Pinner, a restaurant fire in Green Lanes, Southgate, and a blaze on Sidcup Road, Eltham.

There were also grass fires in Oaks Road, Croydon, Chapel View, Croydon and on Sunningfields Crescent in Hendon.

Outside of the capital, there was a huge fire by the A2 in Dartford.

Jonathan Smith, assistant commissioner at LFB, said the incidents had been as a "result of the tinderbox dry woodland and grassland both in central London and in the suburbs".

He said: “This has caused rapid fire spread which has impacted on properties, people’s homes, schools, churches and other types of buildings.

“At the moment, because of the sheer number of incidents we’ve been attending, we will be pulling all of that information together and making sure every incident is thoroughly investigated.

“Once we’ve done that we’ll be able to give an accurate picture of exactly the incidents we’ve attended, how many homes have been affected and if there have been any casualties.”

The London Ambulance Service said the total number of people taken to hospital may not be known until this morning.

The fallout

In Wennington, local residents could be seen being comforted, while others were seen removing gas canisters from a nearby pub, as hundreds of firefighters were at the scene.

Local resident Janet Hickey, 70, who has terminal pancreatic cancer, said she was forced to leave all her cancer drugs behind as they were evacuated.

Her husband Patrick Hickey, 71, added: “We had to leave everything.

“We’re hoping against hope that our house is still there.”

A rescue centre was set up at the Wennington Premier Inn for residents who were evacuated.

Riminta Maceikaite, 38, and her son Nikas Janulevicius, 13, said their neighbours’ homes have burned down but as far as they could see from TV aerial shots, their house is still standing.

Lizzie Pittman, from Aveley in Essex, who works at some stables by the roundabout, said she was looking after five horses that were evacuated.

She said: “This is your worst nightmare. You can see it getting closer and closer. People are losing their houses but that’s bricks and mortar. People are losing their livestock.”

Nearby resident, Lynn Sabberton, who was evacuated from her home with her partner who has a lung difficulty, told Sky News that the fire "just spread so quickly".

“I saw the black smoke and the helicopters came over and more police came into our neighbourhood and it was really spreading very fast," she said.

Freya Gutteridge, 23, from Hornchurch – who works in marketing, said: “We’re all really worried, the wind is strong and we’re seeing on the news that loads of houses are on fire and there isn’t enough fire engines.

“It’s crazy. Most of us in the office live really locally so we’re all worried about families’ houses at the moment.”

Speaking about the Dartford fire, student Liam Edwards, 25, said: “I’ve lived in London and Kent all my life I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This is critical: London Fire is under immense pressure.

“We simply can’t cope with the number of fires across our city directly attributable to the heatwave we’re experiencing, the dry grass, the way the fire spreads during the heatwave.”