People living in the countryside are advised to keep a ‘bag’ of essentials due to the risk of wildfire | UK News
Climate change means anyone who lives where the countryside touches urban environments should pack a bag of essentials in order to be ready for a wildfire, an Australian fire expert has told Sky News.
Professor Ed Galea, founding director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group (FSEG) at the University of Greenwich and a native of melbournesays people living where wildfires are increasingly likely should pack a “go-bag.”
It comes after two rows of terraced houses in Wenningtonon the edge of the London conurbation, were destroyed by a fire that swept through the nearby meadows dried up by the recent heat wave.
Major fires were also declared on Tuesday in London, Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire amid the 40C heat.
UK weather – live updates: Bookmakers predict more ‘extreme heat’ next month
Professor Galea told Sky’s Kay Burley: “We have to come to terms with the fact that the climate is changing – we are entering drier summers, less rain… It increases the risk of wildfires.
“We have to adapt to this and we have to build not only the physical resilience of the…emergency services, but the population has to adapt to this and change their behaviour.
“If you live in an area where – we call them WUI, Wilderness Urban Interface – there is a risk of wildfire, you can pack a ‘go-bag’…where you have your valuables , your meds, the important things you need, so in an emergency you just have to grab the bag and go.
“In many wildfire-prone countries around the world, that’s the advice we’re giving people. We’re starting to see the need for it here in the UK.”
He said what happened in Wennington was a perfect example of the urban wilderness interface because you had properties and campaigns “right against it”.
Professor Galea’s Homeland Australia saw many examples of forest fires caused by heat driving people from their homes.
What should you take?
Australian regional governments have put together an extensive series of online materials to help households prepare for the risk of wildfires, including checklists of what to take.
Among the recommended items to pack are:
- Cash, bank cards, credit cards
- Medicines, toiletries and sanitary supplies
- Special requirements for infants, the elderly, the injured, the disabled
- Mobile phone and charger
- Important documents (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, insurance policy), valuables and photos
- Spare clothes for everyone
The detailed advice from Australian authorities comes after particularly violent wildfires in 2019 and 2020 left up to 80% of the Australian population affected by the fires, according to the country’s Climate Council, with 3,000 homes destroyed and dozens killed. .
Advice is given for people who not only live in the Australian bush, but also specifically next to grasslands and grasslands.
French firefighters battle massive wildfire and pilot dies in crash in Portugal as wildfires rage across Europe
Why a 40C day in the UK is deadlier than a 40C day in other countries
Where else did the prairie fires happen?
Sadiq Khan said London Fire Brigade (LFB) received more than 2,600 calls on Tuesday – seven times the usual number – with one of them being a grassland fire which destroyed and damaged homes in Dagenham.
In South Yorkshire, a serious fire occurred when a row of houses were consumed by flames in Barnsley and Doncaster Council said a major fire in Clayton had spread to three residential properties.
Meanwhile, Norfolk firefighters were called to a fire which started in a field in the village of Ashmanhaugh and spread to two houses.
“No management of the fire field”
Mr Galea, speaking about what locals had said about the Wennington fire, told Sky News there appeared to be ‘no management of the fire field and what residents should do’ .
He added: “One of the first things firefighters and police should do when they get to these places is to make life safe – evacuate people, get them out of the way, then start fighting the fire.
“I’m not sure how it was handled. I’m not sure exactly when the firefighters arrived and how far the fire had progressed, but I would have thought all those houses…you could see the way the fire was advancing, you could see the movement of the smoke, all these houses were threatened and they should all have been evacuated.
“From what some residents said, they weren’t told where to go, they weren’t told to evacuate.
“That’s one of the lessons when dealing with wildfires, you have to take care of people, number one.”
LFB Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith admitted that climate change was something that increasingly needed to be included in their strategic planning going forward, as he told Sky News: “[Tuesday] was an unprecedented challenge for London’s fire service…a number of large-scale incidents…including the Wennington incident…another incident in Upminster and 13 others spread across London… and in addition a number of low grassland and wood fires at floor level.
“Our firefighters, officers and control staff have worked incredibly hard over the past 24 hours. We had 16 firefighters injured, two of whom were hospitalized. I am happy to say they have now been discharged. It was a huge effort from the emergency services yesterday.”