The London Fire Brigade (LFB) had its busiest day since World War II yesterday, as record temperatures led to 1,146 incidents across the city.

Some 41 shops and houses were destroyed in London - including in Wennington, Dagenham, Wembley and Kenton - as wildfires raged in the searing heat and temperatures climbed above 40C for the first time ever in the UK.

The scale and frequency of the fires caused the Brigade to declare a major incident yesterday afternoon - Tuesday, July 19 - amid the tinder-dry conditions.

This allowed for resources to be focused, for staff on training to be recalled and for others on leave to be mobilised.

The LFB received more than 2,600 calls throughout the day – seven times the usual number.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Yesterday was the busiest day for the fire service in London since the Second World War."

There were no fatalities, but 16 firefighters suffered heat-related injuries - and two of them were taken to hospital - as crews worked tirelessly to tackle fires which also engulfed garages, farm buildings, vehicles, outbuildings, a car wash and a church hall.

The Brigade’s assistant commissioner, Jonathan Smith, said: “Yesterday’s fires are another example of how we are increasingly being challenged by new extremes of weather as our climate changes and we’re developing long-term strategies to deal with more incidents like this in the future.

“Firefighters across London worked in very difficult conditions to protect Londoners and their heroic actions mean no lives were lost.

"I am immensely proud of them and their dedication in such unprecedented heat."

In Wennington, a devastating blaze destroyed two rows of terraced houses, four other homes, as well as outbuildings, garages, stables and cars and affected 40 hectares of grassland.

It's believed that a total of 19 houses were destroyed.

And in Dagenham, a grassland fire destroyed and damaged a number of houses and vehicles as two people were hospitalised.

In Upminster, 175 firefighters dealt with a grass fire in Pea Lane which saw smoke billow across the M25.

On the railways, dozens of trains have been cancelled or delayed across the country because of problems caused by the extreme heat – which is being fuelled by climate change.

Heatwaves are being made more intense, frequent and longer by climate change, and scientists said it would be “virtually impossible” for the UK to have experienced temperatures reaching 40C without human-driven global warming.

Scientists also warn that climate change is increasing fire danger across the UK – and people need to be prepared for it.

Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the treasury, said the fires were a “warning sign” about the impact of climate change.

“This is a remarkable, unprecedented event and something which obviously, because people have been saying, we are not used to seeing in this country,” he said.

“What we’ve seen in recent days is not normal and it is a warning sign.”

The country is braced for more extreme weather, with a yellow warning in place for heavy showers and thunderstorms in parts of England that could bring disruption this afternoon.

Londoners have been warned not to have barbecues as conditions continue to be very dry.

London Ambulance Service said it had taken 13,400 calls to 999 on Monday and Tuesday - the equivalent of a call every 13 seconds.

Early data shows that on Tuesday, the service saw a ten-fold increase in incidents related to heat exposure compared to last week, and an 8 per cent increase in people fainting, it said.