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Wanstead Flats wildfire named London's 'biggest ever grass fire' as firefighters issue warning

PUBLISHED: 13:09 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:54 16 July 2018

The aftermath of the

The aftermath of the "biggest ever" grass fire in London's history which broke out in Wanstead Flats last night. Photo: Ken Mears

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An urgent safety warning has been issued after hundreds of firefighters battled a wildfire in Wanstead Flats - the biggest grass fire in London's history.

More than 220 firefighters tackled the grass fire in Wanstead Flats. Picture:@mo_afghan\Mohammad HassanzaiMore than 220 firefighters tackled the grass fire in Wanstead Flats. Picture:@mo_afghan\Mohammad Hassanzai

LFB were called to reports of a grass fire in Wanstead Flats at 4.05pm yesterday (July 15), receiving more than 100 calls - many from Lakehouse Road and Centre Road.

At the height of the fire, more than 100 hectares of grass was alight and smoke drifted across busy roads, which was visible for miles, causing local road closures.

This is roughly the same size as 10 football pitches.

More than 225 firefighters were called to the scene and 40 fire engines attended from stations including Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Hainault.

Smoke from the Wanstead Flats grass fire could be seen for miles. Picture: @London_w4Smoke from the Wanstead Flats grass fire could be seen for miles. Picture: @London_w4

The fire is still smouldering and around 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines remain at the scene today (July 16) damping down the earth.

The cause of the fire is not known.

Firefighters are concerned that there will be further incidents if the public doesn’t take greater care during the heatwave.

London Fire Commissioner, Dany Cotton, said: “This weekend we dealt with the largest grass fire in our history, as well as a range of other serious fires on grassland.

Smoke from the Wanstead Flats grass fire could be seen for miles. Picture: @London_w4Smoke from the Wanstead Flats grass fire could be seen for miles. Picture: @London_w4

“The ground is extremely dry at the moment and grassland and parks will act like a tinderbox when exposed to even the smallest of sparks.

“I never thought I’d say this but we are praying for rain.

“We are calling on the public to take steps to prevent grass fires: don’t drop cigarettes or matches on dry ground or out of car windows; don’t have barbecues on dry grass or parks and don’t leave glass bottles out as they can concentrate the sun’s rays and start a blaze.

“Grass fires spread like lightning so if you see dry grass smouldering, please call 999 and report it immediately so that firefighters can deal with it and stop it from spreading.”

Fires on peatland can present a challenge as the fire can travel below ground.

Crews are expected to be on scene for a number of hours.

The brigade offer the following advice to prevent grass fires:

n Never leave camp fires or barbecues unattended and extinguish them properly after you have finished using them

n Clear away bottles, glasses and any broken glass to avoid them magnifying the sun and starting a fire

n Dispose of smoking materials such as cigarettes safely

n Explain to children the dangers of playing with and lighting fires

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