UK heatwave: London's fire chief calls for barbecue ban

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Barbecues have been temporarily banned in London Fields after advice from firefighters

A senior firefighter has called for barbecue bans to be imposed in London's parks after a record-breaking number of grass fires.

London Fire Brigade's Commissioner Dany Cotton has urged all borough councils to impose a temporary ban in the "tinder dry capital".

She said it is "only a matter of time" before someone is seriously hurt.

There have already been 43 large grass fires in London so far this year, compared to seven in the whole of 2017.

At one point this week more than 260 firefighters were tackling grass fires across the capital.

A blaze on Wanstead Flats took four days and 40 fire engines to tackle, while firefighters also had to contend with large blazes on Woolwich Common and in Barnet, Hillingdon, Leytonstone and Enfield.

'Barbecuing is reckless'

Ms Cotton said the number of abandoned, smouldering barbecues her crews have spotted at the scene of grass fires "never ceases to shock me".

"In these arid conditions, barbecuing on dry grass is not just thoughtless, it's reckless," she said.

"We have a lot of green space in London but it's nearly always lined by roads and houses.

"It's only a matter of time before hot smoke and flaming debris catches nearby cars and houses and someone is seriously hurt."

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Image caption,
The Wanstead Flats blaze was so extensive it can be defined as a wildfire, firefighters said

While the Brigade's recommendations are taken seriously, it is London's local councils that have the power to impose or lift barbecue bans.

Islington and Waltham Forest councils announced their support for the idea with an immediate borough-wide ban, while Hackney Council has banned barbecues in London Fields.

Some councils already have permanent borough-wide bans on barbecues, including Greenwich, Lambeth and Kensington and Chelsea.

Ms Cotton's plea comes after other firefighters said they were "praying for rain" and were "fed up" of having to put out avoidable grass fires.

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