major incident has been declared in London and Leicestershire amid a surge of fires caused by a record breaking heatwave.
The temperature on Tuesday exceeded 40C in the UK for the first time on record, with 40.2C reported at Heathrow at 12.50pm.
It was then surpassed by a record 40.3C recorded in Coningsby, Lincolnshire a few hours later.
Mayor Sadiq Khan the incident had been declared with London Fire Brigade under “immense pressure” including multiple houses under threat in Wennington.
“I’m in touch with the Commissioner and will share updates when I have them.”
It comes as the UK recorded its warmest night on record from Monday into Tuesday, according to provisional figures from the Met Office.
Temperatures did not fall below 25C in places, including 25.8C in Kenley in Croydon, exceeding the previous highest daily minimum record of 23.9C, recorded in Brighton on August 3, 1990.
Heatwave sees record temperatures across the UK
- A huge grass fire has broken out in an Essex village as temperatures hit 40C
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‘An unprecedented day’
The Met Office has warned that the heatwave could peak with record temperatures on Tuesday.
Rachel Ayers, a Met Office forecaster, said: “The temperature will be very hot throughout the day, before rising as high as 40C, maybe even 41C in isolated spots across England during the afternoon.
“This will make it the hottest day on record and the first time we have seen temperatures as high as 40C.”
Scotland and Wales could also see their hottest days on record.
Ms Ayers added: “There are likely to be delays on roads, with road closures, as well as possible delays and cancellations to trains and maybe issues with air travel.
“This could pose a significant health risk to those stuck on services or roads during the heat.”
Cabinet minister: Rails and roads could take ‘decades’ to be more resilient during extreme heat
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said issues on the rails and roads will continue for decades during extreme heatwaves.
Asked how long it will take to upgrade existing rail infrastructure to be more resilient, he told Sky News: “Decades, actually, to replace it all.
“Ditto with Tarmac on the roads.
“There’s a long process of replacing it and upgrading it to withstand temperatures, either very hot or sometimes much colder than we’ve been used to, and these are the impacts of global warming.”
He said there was no Cobra meeting planned for Tuesday, with the Prime Minister instead chairing Cabinet.
A look at today’s forecast
The Met Office has released a weather forecast for Tuesday on their Twitter.
Here are the details below:
Shapps defends PM over leadership during heatwave
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted Boris Johnson has not checked out early from No 10 as the Prime Minister is criticised for not playing a direct enough role in combating the heatwave.
He told Sky News: “It’s literally not true, in fact exactly the opposite is the truth.”
Shown the Prime Minister’s ride in a Typhoon fighter jet during the Farnborough Air Show on Monday, Mr Shapps defended the flight.
“In the end he has responsibility for Britain’s security,” Mr Shapps said.
“There is a war going on in Europe. Why on earth would he not go and meet with the RAF?”
Only travel if essential, warns TfL
Transport for London (TfL) is advising customers to only travel if essential on Tuesday 19 July, due to the high temperatures forecast.
The Met Office has issued its first ever red warning for high heat for parts of the UK, including London, with temperatures forecast to hit 40C later in the day.
Temporary speed restrictions have been introduced on parts of the Tube and Rail network as a precaution, which means a reduced service and could mean journeys take longer than usual.
Slight increase in rates of fainting and heat exposure, says LAS director
Brian Jordan, director of 999 operations for London Ambulance Service, said the service saw a slight increase in calls for fainting and heat exposure on Monday.
The service received 6,600 emergency calls yesterday, which was slightly lower than predicted.
“We really hope that’s because the public really have been listened to the messages about how they can look after themselves and only call 999 if it’s a genuine emergency,” Mr Jordan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“People have been through a very long day yesterday and there’s been high temperatures overnight and with the even hotter temperatures today, I cannot really emphasise enough that people need to continue to do what we were asking them yesterday – to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, keep hydrated, look after more vulnerable friends, families, neighbours and use sun cream etc.”
He added: “As yesterday afternoon progressed we saw a slight increase in the rates of fainting and heat exposure”.
Mr Jordan said that the service expected to see a “build-up of illness due to the continued heat overnight and even higher temperatures coming today… it’s just about making sure that even after the peak temperatures, everyone continues to follow that advice”.
Ambulances were not waiting outside of hospitals any longer than usual on Monday, he added.
London council warns against littering following grass fire in Hayes
Hillingdon Council is warning residents not to drop any litter during the extreme heatwave following a grass fire in Hayes.
The council tweeted: “ Please take extra care in this hot weather to not leave anything behind, such as glass and bottles, that could cause a grass fire.
“Don’t drop cigarettes on dry ground, or out of car windows, please dispose of them carefully.”
On Monday evening, eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to deal with a grass fire at Cranford Park.
Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control but said grass the size of four football pitches was damaged in the blaze.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Many grass fires are avoidable with the most common causes being carelessly discarded cigarettes and matches, unattended barbecues and glass bottles that have been left on dry grass.
“We’re also concerned that some grass fires are being started deliberately and are asking parents to talk to their children about the dangers of starting fires.”
They also said there was a fire on Woolwich Common, which was also thought to be as a result of people dropping litter, as temperatures soared on Monday.
Cabinet minister: UK transport system cannot cope with extreme heat
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps conceded the UK’s transport network cannot cope with the extreme heat.
He told people to “apply common sense” and “depending on the nature of your journey and reason for it you might want to consider rearranging your day around it”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “We’ve seen a considerable amount of travel disruption, we’re probably going to see the hottest day ever in the UK recorded today and infrastructure, much of it built in Victorian times, just wasn’t built to withstand this type of temperature.
“It will be many years before we can replace infrastructure with the kind of infrastructure that could, because the temperatures are so extreme.”
Asked if the transport system can cope with the weather, he said: “The simple answer at the moment is no.”
Ice cream sales jump 14 per cent, according to Kantar
Retail research firm Kantar said that supermarkets have seen a 14 per cent jump in ice cream sales and 66 per cent rise for suncare products over the month to July 10 as Brits witnessed soaring temperatures.
Warmest UK night on record, according to provisional figures
The UK has experienced its warmest night on record, according to provisional Met Office figures.
Temperatures didn’t fall below 25C in places, including 25.8C recorded in Kenley in Croydon, exceeding the previous highest daily minimum record of 23.9C, recorded in Brighton on August 3, 1990.