London, Europe Brief News – The Met Office estimates that climate change makes the extreme heat seen last week in the UK 10 times more likely. Extreme heat and dry conditions are major factors contributing to wildfires.
According to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) there have been almost 500 wildfires so far this year alone in England and Wales, compared with 237 last year.
NFCC lead wildfire tactical advisor David Swallow, who is also group commander for Hereford and Worcester Fire Service, said: “Everything is bone-dry and services need to recognise the risk they’ve now got. If they don’t, then they’re naïve.
“There are very urban services that think that wildfires are low down on the risk list. I understand the need to prioritise resources, but there needs to be a review.”
Last week’s wildfires across London show that lessons learned tackling rural blazes must urgently be applied to built-up areas, fire chiefs say.
The record-breaking heatwave, with 40C peaks, came during a prolonged spell of dry weather – and that dried out gardens, verges and green spaces.
That helped to spark the kind of blazes more commonly seen in the countryside.
More than 40 houses and shops were destroyed after a number of grass fires spread to nearby buildings.