UK wildfire victims allowed back to see the burned remains of their homes

Residents left devastated when their homes were 'destroyed in minutes' by a grassfire during the record-breaking heatwave have been allowed to see the charred remains of their properties.

At least 18 families' homes were destroyed in the blaze in Wennington, east London, and around 90 people were evacuated.

On Wednesday (20 July) the London Fire Brigade warned the residents about the state of their houses, before they were allowed to return to see what was left of their homes, Metro reports.

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Olufunke Akinfe, 54, who had with her husband at their home on the village's Green for 16 years, said before her visit: "I was working from home in my study, and I had the window open, I could smell burning and I saw ashes come through the window.

"I looked out and saw my neighbour trying to climb a ladder to look over the fence where there was a fire.

"When I saw it, I went outside and got my hose pipe to try and help contain the flames.

"But when I got back to my house I saw my doormat was on fire, it was windy and the doormat was made of straw, after that the grass was on fire, then the fence was on fire too.

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"I rushed out of my house only taking my phone, nothing else. I’ve had to buy flip-flops and toiletries from a shop as I didn’t have anything with me."

Although Olufunke's house has remained standing, more than 40 properties in the east London suburb were ruined in the blaze.

Pictures from the reunion show emotional residents embracing each other before going to inspect the damage.

And in spite of the tragedy, some residents even seemed joyous to see their neighbours had survived the ordeal, since nobody died in the horror blaze.

Since the incident, the fire brigade has issued a warning, saying the hot weather should serve as a wake-up call.

Assistant commissioner of the brigade Jonathan Smith said: "Tuesday’s fires are another example of how we are increasingly being challenged by new extremes of weather as our climate changes.

"We’re developing long-term strategies to deal with more incidents like this in the future."

It's not currently clear how much it will cost to right the damages caused by the inferno, but one family who lost their entire home and all their possessions have raised more than £6,000 through fundraising pages set up to help them.


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