Firefighters battle dramatic wildfire as scorching summer continues

Tinderbox Britain: Firefighters battle dramatic wildfire as scorching summer continues to create perfect conditions for outdoor blazes to spread

  • Dramatic night time blaze burned through a Leeds corn field on Thursday 
  • Drone footage captured firefighters battling the blaze in eerie red-hued fields
  • Over 40 fire crew at the burning field on Spitalgap Lane in Pontefract 9.30pm
  • The fire comes as Britain baked in its driest July since records began in 1836

Firefighters were called to battle a dramatic night time blaze Thursday that ripped through a field near Leeds as Britain bakes in the driest July since record began. 

Drone footage captured firefighters in the eerie red-hued fields as the blue fire engine sirens flashed in the night and the flames seared parallel lines through the corn.

Multiple West Yorkshire fire services and over 40 fire crew attended the burning corn field on Spitalgap Lane in Pontefract around 9.30pm and battled well into the night.

The fire was brought under control by Friday morning without reports of injuries or damage of property.

After already breaking the all-time heat record for the UK in July, when the mercury hit 40 degrees on July 19, the heatwave has parched the fields and parks of England, leaving conditions for ideal for wild fires to spread.

Firefighters were called to battle a dramatic night time blaze Thursday that ripped through a field near Leeds as Britain bakes in the driest July since record began

Multiple West Yorkshire fire services and over 40 fire crew attended the burning corn field on Spitalgap Lane in Pontefract around 9.30pm and battled well into the night

The fire was brought under control by Friday morning without reports of injuries or damage of property

After already breaking the all-time heat record for the UK in July, when the mercury hit 40 degrees on July 19, the heatwave has parched the fields and parks of England, leaving conditions for ideal for wild fires to spread

Fires ripped through London and the surrounding areas on the hottest day on record, with the Essex village of Wennington seeing at least 19 homes destroyed.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said the day was its busiest since the Second World War, with crews attending 1,146 incidents. 

Many blazes start as grass fires that spread to residential areas, driven by winds, extreme temperatures and bone-dry conditions. 

This year so far alone England and Wales have seen 442 wild fires, compared to just 247 for the whole of 2021.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) put this down, in part, to climate factors, with their tactical adviser, David Swallow, telling the BBC that ‘services need to recognise the risk they’ve now got’.

This year so far alone England and Wales have seen 442 wild fires, compared to just 247 for the whole of 2021. Pictured: Parched fields in Dorset

View from the air of the parched fields surrounding the village of Abbotsbury in Dorset where the grass has been scorched by the hot sunshine and lack of rain during the summer drought conditions

‘If they don’t, then they’re naive,’ he said. ‘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.’ 

Andy Roe, the head of the London fire brigade, called the fires in the capital last month ‘unprecedented’, adding ‘I saw stuff this week that I had not expected to see as a London firefighter.’

South-east and central southern England saw an average of only 5.0mm of rain last month, while East Anglia had 5.4mm.

For both areas it was the lowest amount of rainfall in July since Met Office records began almost 200 years ago, in 1836.

It is under these conditions that a second hosepipe ban hitting millions more households took effect across Hampshire, Isle of Wight South East Water in Kent and Sussex, and Welsh Water in Pembrokeshire as the dry spell continues.

(Stock Image) Around 2.2 million people in Kent and Sussex will be affected by the hose pipe ban

Holidaymakers and families pack the beach as they enjoy the hot sunshine at Weymouth in Dorset yesterday

Crowds of people swim in the sea at Woolacombe in North Devon yesterday ahead of another heatwave on the way next week

Southern Water begins the ‘temporary usage ban’ yesterday – a week before South East Water restrictions for Kent and Sussex start, covering 2.2million people. The 85,000 people on the Isle of Man have had a ban since last Friday.

Now, Welsh Water has also announced restrictions for 200,000 customers in Pembrokeshire and a small part of Carmarthenshire from August 19 – with the firm blaming the driest conditions since the drought of 1976.

And Britons are preparing for another heatwave next week with temperatures set to soar towards 100F (38C) for the second time in less than a month – with a hot weekend also on the way as the mercury hits 27C (81F).

The Met Office said it expects temperatures to reach the ‘low or even mid-30Cs (mid-90Fs) by the end of next week’, thanks to an area of high pressure building from the Atlantic into the South and South West of England.

The Met Office confirmed the mercury is unlikely to reach the same heights seen in July next week and records are therefore not expected to be broken again – but there could still be several days of very high temperatures.     

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