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Fires tear through grassland across the UK amid tinder-dry drought conditions

Police officers near the scene of a grass fire at the Leyton Flats nature reserve in east London (Yui Mok/PA)
Police officers near the scene of a grass fire at the Leyton Flats nature reserve in east London (Yui Mok/PA)

Fires have broken out across the nation amid tinder-dry conditions and unprecedented heat.

Official droughts have been declared in eight areas of southern and central England, and several grasslands have caught alight in these zones and beyond following the driest summer in half a century.

Five fire engines and about 35 firefighters have been tackling a two-hectare grass fire on Whipps Cross Road in Leytonstone, Waltham Forest.

Summer weather Aug 12th 2022
A firefighter dampens down a grass fire at Leyton Flats in east London (Yui Mok).

London Fire Brigade (LFB) crews have been captured beating back the flames at the scene of the blaze at the Leyton Flats wildlife reserve in east London.

The service has also warned of a blaze in Merton, in the south east of the capital, where four engines and about 25 firefighters have been deployed.

Summer weather Aug 12th 2022
Firefighters battle a grass fire at Leyton Flats (Yui Mok/PA)

Meanwhile, more than 100 miles north in Derbyshire, emergency services have warned they are currently tackling three “significant” infernos.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned of a railway embankment blaze at Matlock, an open fire in Creswell, Worksop, and another embankment blaze near Junction 26 of the M1.

Footage shared online showed fire filling the horizon at the Creswell blaze, with large plumes of smoke in the sky.

Oli Mousley, 19, a law student who lives in the village, said there was also “ash floating around” in the residential area nearby and a “strong smell of burning”.

Summer weather Aug 12th 2022
A closer shot of the blaze in Leyton Flats (Yui Mok/PA)

South west of London, fire crews worked overnight to tackle a blaze involving 800 tonnes of straw which had destroyed a farmer’s field in Overton, near Basingstoke.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service also said a woodland area caught alight in Beaulieu, in the New Forest National Park, caused by a campfire or barbecue.

An LFB spokesperson has warned that with more high temperatures on the way, people must take care to dispose of rubbish, particularly glass.

They said: “There are still high temperatures forecast, especially for the coming days, and the ground remains dry.

Summer weather Aug 12th 2022
Firefighters battle a grass fire (Yui Mok/PA).

“We’re urging people to take extra care and help us prevent fires on open land this summer.

“Make sure rubbish, especially glass, is safely thrown away and cigarettes are always properly disposed of.

“Grass will be tinder dry after periods of hot weather, so please don’t have barbecues in parks and public spaces.”