London news: Firefighters called to blaze in Leytonstone as figures show ‘unprecedented’ rise in grass fires


irefighters battled a blaze in Leytonstone on Thursday, reporting they have been called to more than 300 grass fires since the beginning of August.

The London Fire Brigade said there have been eight times more fires in the first week of August than in the same period last year due to “tinderbox dry” conditions.

Crews were called shortly after 11.30am to a blaze at Hollow Ponds in Whipps Cross Road, Leytonstone, following reports that the area of grass and shrub land was alight.

Two fire engines and ten firefighters attended the scene and brought the flames under control around an hour later, with the cause still being investigated.

In the first week of August, the brigade responded to 340 grass, rubbish and open land fires, compared to 42 in 2021.

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The brigade has renewed its call for residents to avoid barbecues in open spaces or on balconies. They said to put out cigarettes properly and dispose of rubbish safely.

The Met Office has issued an amber warning for extreme heat.

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.”

In recent weeks, the number of calls that London Fire Brigade’s control room officers have taken has also spiked. Between July 18 and August 7, 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.

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