It sounds weird to say we’ve had a horrendous grass fire almost on our doorstep when we live in a converted first floor flat in a brick-built Victorian terrace house in a very busy and generally built-up area of East London – yet on Sunday that’s exactly what happened.
Wanstead Flats is a large expanse of open ground made up of grasses, scrub, trees and bushes that nestles quietly behind the scenes between Leytonstone and Manor Park on the map. It’s been kept as common ground since the middle ages, and is a permanant breath of fresh air for people like me who are not natural city-dwellers and miss the vast expanses of the countryside. Nowadays it is divided into three very similar sections by two busy roads cutting through it, and here in Leytonstone we are lucky live right on the most western edge of the flats.
Sadly in this never-ending heatwave we’ve been experiencing lately, somehow some of the tinder-dry central section caught fire on Sunday afternoon, quickly spreading and soon resulting in a grass fire the size of 150 football pitches being tackled by 40 fire engines and over 200 fire-fighters. The billowing plumes of smoke were visible for miles, and the smell of drifting woodsmoke permeated everything close by well into the night.
As advised I kept well clear of the area on Sunday and Monday, but took a walk on ‘our’ section of the flats this morning – thankfully it looks very much as usual for this time of year, golden grasses and green trees and blue skies…
But once I reached the road separating our section from the central section, the devastation from the fire on Sunday was immediately apparent. The police cordon is still in place, roads are still blocked and the whole area still closed off. It’s apparent the road between the two sections created somewhat of a natural fire-break, used and encouraged by firefighters fighting the blaze, but nevertheless the fire has burned right up to the edge of the pavement, which is where I took these images from…
At present the situation is still clearly ongoing, in that while I was there I saw three fire engines in situ still dousing the smouldering, charred and blackened ground, and even met two fire-fighters on foot walking the perimeter of the fire to check the extinguished sections around the edges of the cordon don’t re-ignite.
I’m just so full of praise for the men and women of London Fire Brigade who have worked and are still working tirelessly to ensure our homes remain safe in what has been a concerning experience for all of us who live in the immediate area – thank you all so much from a very grateful East London resident 🙂