My truck blew up and I lost everything, says man who escaped Wennington fire

A gravedigger in a village ravaged by yesterday’s wildfires has described escaping with just his dogs and tortoises before opening up the local church to provide sanctuary from the flames for residents.

As the scale of the devastation became clear today, London’s fire service said it had had its busiest day since the Second World War, with 41 properties destroyed during record-breaking temperatures.

Other homes were also destroyed as blazes swept the country.

The grade II listed medieval parish church of St Mary and St Peter in Wennington, east London, was this morning surrounded by its scorched graveyard and the smouldering ruins of nine homes.

Remarkably, it appeared relatively undamaged.

Tim Stock, the gravedigger and church warden, described managing to get villagers to safety inside