A local farmer has been labelled a hero after bravely intervening to slow a ferocious wildfire spreading across a field in Kent.
The fire spread across almost 20 acres of land and could be seen by a huge queue of lorry drivers on the M20.
Farmer Bill Alexander “rapidly stepped in” and used his tractor to cut the crops around the fire to help slow it down after the wind turned the blaze towards a house.
Andy Barr, who owns the Kent farm, praised his “good neighbour” for his “hero” actions and tweeted the image of the tractor cutting the crops.
“Please tell everyone to be careful what they do along roads and paths – 20ha of spring barley up in flames,” Mr Barr said.
“This picture from my son was when the wind turned towards my brother’s house. Luckily, Bill Alexander and Jonny and Ellie from TCAgri saved the day.”
The fire was brought under control after 90 minutes as eight fire engines tackled the blaze. The cause is still being investigated.
A fire service spokesman said: “We were sent to reports of a standing crop fire in fields on Lenham Heath.
“Crews worked hard to get the fire under control. It covered approximately eight hectares, the equivalent of almost 20 acres.
“The fire has been brought under control and put out. Firefighters escorted persons who were in the vicinity to safety. There are no reports of any injuries.”
The fire comes after multiple fires broke out across the south of England and Wales this week as an intense heatwave took over the UK.
Parts of London, Kent, Cornwall and Pembrokeshire saw wildfires erupt at as temperatures reach record highs of 40C in parts of the country.
Regarding the causes of such blazes, a London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “The recent hot, dry weather has made the ground extremely dry, which unfortunately means grassland and parks will burn quickly when exposed to even the smallest of sparks.
“Common causes of grass fires include carelessly discarded cigarettes or matches as well as rubbish left lying around such as glass bottles, which can start flames by magnifying the sun’s rays.”
The Norfolk-based Calver family, who “lost everything” in the UK wildfires, told The Independent of their shock at this week’s events.
”That’s all that we’ve got out. Everything else was totally destroyed. We had the clothes we stood up in and nothing else,” said Mr Calver, a 67-year-old garden centre worker.
The Calvers are now faced with having to replace everything. Mr Calver said they thought their contents insurance was rolling over, but had now found out it had expired.
He said they did not really have enough savings to fall back on either, which was why a friend set up a fundraising page to help them and their neighbour.
When asked where the couple were living now, Mr Calver said: “We’re not living, basically; we’re sofa surfing.”
Firefighters have called Tuesday’s blazes a “wake-up call” on the climate crisis.
Mr Calver said he never expected something like this to happen in his small Norfolk village, which has a population of around 200. Seven fire engines and three police cars turned up when the houses went up in flames.
“It’s come as a complete shock,” said Mr Calver. “I said to people this must be the most excitement Ashmanhaugh has had since the war.”