Return to Transcripts main page
Quest Means Business
Global Heat Wave; River Po Drying Up As Severe Drought Grips Italy, Volkswagen CEO Talks Ukraine, Electric Cars; Global Heat Wave; Russia Installing Proxy Officials In Ukraine. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired July 19, 2022 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: A surge in fires across the UK capital as the nation experiences its hottest day on record.
French President Macron announces plans to visit fire-ravaged Giron.
And Italy's farmers face the worst drought in 70 years.
Live from London. It's Tuesday July 19th, I'm Sara Sidner and This is CNN NEWSROOM.
Good evening to you.
Tonight fires are raging just a few miles outside of London as much of Europe's swelters under record setting heat. London firefighters have
declared a major incident as they battle multiple blazes around the British capital. One of the most destructive broke out east of the city.
Temperatures in the UK reached 40 degrees Celsius today, setting a new national record. Some relief is in the forecast for the UK, but Europe's
heatwave could last until next week. Germany just recorded its hottest day of the year, just shy of 40 degrees. Forecasters there say Wednesday could
be slightly hotter.
As the heatwave crosses Europe, it is leaving a trail of destruction. Wildfires are burning in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal.
Bianca Nobilo is in Wennington, just east of London, where firefighters are still at work.
Bianca, the pictures we are seeing, I have to say as someone who has lived many years in Los Angeles, look very similar to what that state goes
through every single year. What's happening?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR, "THE BRIEF": Well, as I'm speaking to you, Sara, our team have just arrived and the air is thick with smoke. I've been
told that the fire is not contained. It has spread to about 40 hectares in the fields behind me. It is destroying homes, people are being evacuated.
We just spoke to a man a few minutes ago who said that he lost his house, and I've been speaking to members of the London Fire Brigade, one of them
telling me today that there was a moment in the afternoon and possibly still now that's yet to be confirmed where there were no fire engines
available in London, they were all occupied.
And of course, that's because the London Fire Brigade and not only having to attend to their usual call outs, which have a greater urgency in the
sweltering record breaking heat.
For example, if people get stuck in lifts or elderly people are stuck in a bathroom in their home, it's more urgent that the Fire Brigade need to be
able to get in and rescue them because of all the health implications of them being stuck for a long time.
Then you add to that the fact that the spark from building equipment or a discarded cigarette or bottles that are lying around on the ground when the
sun hits the reflective surface, all can spring into wildfires, and that's what we're seeing all around the capital today.
So it's something which is entirely unprecedented in my memory in London, and we haven't seen anything like it. So it's all systems go, firemen are
being asked to cancel any holiday they have, come in in all their days off because they need all the help they can get to contain these, and that's
what we're witnessing around here is they're still not able to get a handle on the situation.
And even as we've been standing here, is we've got even smokier, and you can see firemen running around in the distance trying to contain the
situation -- Sara.
SIDNER: You can hear animals, that always happens, people are trying to save their animals as well as trying to save themselves and some of their
belongings. When you look at those pictures and you consider, there is a huge difference between how people are used to living in a place like
London and how they're used to living in a place like LA or Arizona. Can you describe to me why this is such a big deal beyond the fires, but the
heat in and of itself. Aircon is not exactly a prevalent thing, is it, in homes?
NOBILO: No, it isn't. And sometimes for our viewers around the world and in the United States, when they hear about us talking of temperatures in
the high 30 degrees Celsius into 40, they can be used to those temperatures and it's a bit of a head scratcher sometimes why it paralyzes the nation,
why it's such a health risk and why MPs all functioning in the capital and in the outskirts and I can compare it Sara to my family who has lived in
Florida since I was young and over there in these kinds of temperatures, there is aircon in most places. It's built to sustain those kinds of heat.
Well, this country is not that way. If we look at London, a lot of buildings are Victorian and need to be retrofitted with aircon and they're
not. Most apartments don't have air conditioning, lots some workplaces don't have air conditioning. Schools don't have it either and even just the
basic infrastructure like how the trains run or the tarmac in the airfield is not built to withstand these high temperatures because they are
unprecedented since records began what we're witnessing today.
NOBILO: And that is why it's such a problem and why the climate scientists have been warning about this, and why now, whether it's politicians or
those who are running the infrastructure, schools, businesses, whatever it is, is saying that we have to act very fast in order to keep people safe,
and keep everything functioning if this is going to be more of the new normal -- Sara.
SIDNER: Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much for getting out there quickly and showing us the pictures that are happening that are just extraordinary. As
you mentioned, we have never seen anything like it in your time in this country.
Extreme heat is also wreaking havoc in parts of Italy. The country is enduring its worst drought since the 1950s. Several regions are being asked
to ration water there. High temperatures are forecast for the coming days.
Ben Wedeman has our story.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Land once lush and productive is drying up.
In the delta of Italy's once mighty River Po, drought has struck.
(FEDERICA VIDALI speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "Seventy percent of the crop is gone," Federica Vidali," tells me. "If it doesn't rain, you can see the plants are burning
But this year, the rains didn't come. It's Italy's worst drought in 70 years. Her soya crop is all but gone. The drought has impacted a third of
WEDEMAN (on camera): It didn't rain much during the winter or the spring plus, Italy is going through an unprecedented heatwave. Those combined to
create the perfect storm for Italian agriculture.
Five major food producing Italian regions have declared a drought emergency.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Three generations of Antonio Bezzi's family have cultivated rice.
(ANTONIO BEZZI speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "We've never seen a drought like this," he says. Climate change here isn't a myth, it's reality.
"In the last 10 years," Antonio says, "The area planted with rice has gone down almost 50 percent as a result of drought."
Close to the sea, there is water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.
WEDEMAN (on camera): In normal times, this is where the saltwater reached in this river, about three miles from the Adriatic. But now, because of the
drought because of the low level of fresh water in the River Po, the saltwater reaches about 18 miles inland and that is having a disastrous
effect on crops.
(RODOLFO LAURENTI speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): Rodolfo Laurenti works for the local water authority, which closely monitors the flow and salinity of water in the Po
(RODOLFO LAURENTI speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "The moment of real climate crisis," he says, "is 2022"
To ensure adequate drinking water, one local authority has resorted to renting expensive mobile desalination plants.
(MONICA MONTE speaking in foreign language.)
WEDEMAN (voice over): "Climate change means we have to be ready for emergencies like this," says Director Monica Monte (ph).
Elsewhere, the little fresh river water that is still available, is used to save at least a portion of the rice crop.
RAMONA EMANUEL, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: This type of drought --
WEDEMAN (voice over): For climate scientist, Ramona Emanuel (ph) warns, it's too little and --
EMANUEL: It's too late. We -- what we can do now is try to reduce losses.
WEDEMAN (voice over): And as this drought goes on, the losses will only mount.
SIDNER: The extreme heat is having a harmful impact on infrastructure, and that can have damaging economic consequences.
In the past few days, Luton Airport, 50 kilometers north of London had to suspend flights after the heat caused damage to the runway and fires
brought trains to a halt in Spain as they approach the tracks.
A study from last year found that damages from heat waves cost up to a half a percent of GDP. The study cited reduced labor productivity.
David Garcia-Leon is one of the authors of the study. He is a policy analyst on the Impact of Climate Change for the European Commission.
David, thank you so much for joining me.
DAVID GARCIA-LEON, POLICY ANALYST ON THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE FOR THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Hi there, Sara. Good evening. Thank you for having
SIDNER: Can I ask you first about how destructive over time and we're seeing these unbelievable pictures in London, we're seeing them in Italy.
We're seeing them in France. We're seeing right now watching a picture out of Spain, with the fire outside of a train that's trying to find its way to
safety with a bunch of people on it.
Tell me how bad this is at this point where infrastructure is going to be impacted and has been?
GARCIA-LEON: Well, what my research says, heat waves are actually hurting our economies, but let me start by pointing out that probably the costless
toll imposed by heatwaves in Europe is not accounted for in my study, and this is the human toll.
Hundreds of people have already died across Europe due to excessive heat. Thousands more have had to flee wildfires in Spain, France, Greece, or in
London, as we are seeing tonight. These impacts are so palpable, but perhaps too difficult to assess in economic terms.
But going back to my research, we have strong evidence supporting the fact that excessive heat harms the biophysical and cognitive abilities of
people, making them to perform worse at work, especially those people who work outdoors. Think of construction workers or farmers.
In our study, we have been able to translate this heat signal experience during heat waves into labor productivity damages. With the help of an
economic model, we estimate that the heat waves can lower European GDP in the range of between 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points of GDP, which is a very
SIDNER: You know, David, what's interesting about this is right now, you're having this push and pull of economic distress, if you will. You
have inflation going up, but in Europe, in particular, because of the war in Ukraine, you also have this idea, and in some countries where they're
saying, "Well, maybe we need to go back to coal, because we don't know if Russia is going to be able to provide or will provide the oil that we need
in the winter," for example.
What kind of stresses and strains would happen if we simply start going backwards with the carbon emissions?
GARCIA-LEON: Well, perhaps, thank you, Sara for this question. Perhaps I'm not that qualified to answer this. I have some of my colleagues in my
institution dealing with this sort of supply talks.
What I can tell you is that the present year, 2022, seems comparable in terms of heat intensity to 2003, a year that was exceptionally hot here in
So if this dynamic of heat continues this way along the year, we should be expecting damages lying around 0.5 percentage of GDP solely attributed to
SIDNER: So just related to heat, I mean, that is quite a large. It might not sound large to people, but when you start looking at how much money,
what GDP looks like, it's an enormous amount of loss to governments, to people in general.
Is there a -- are you further looking into, you talk about jobs that are lost. There are farmers, correct? There are people who rely on the weather
to help them create the food that we eat, and therefore sell it. So farmers and the consumers, is that an issue?
GARCIA-LEON: Actually, this is a very big issue. You know, Sara, our projections indicate that by 2060, so in 40 years' time, if this dynamic of
heat continues along this path, the economic loss is triggered by heat waves might increase by almost a factor of five in Europe, if no further
mitigation or adaptation action to climate change is taken.
So it is urgent to tackle this issue. Government, administrations, and institutions should face this problem very seriously.
SIDNER: Do you think if the issue was not tackled, as it has sort of been sort of left in the wind -- yes, there have been some things done, but on a
huge scale, do you think that when it comes down to money, that that will be the thing that finally pushes governments to act in a large way?
GARCIA-LEON: Well, in a way, I'm sort of a positive person and I think the institution all around the world, mostly in Europe and the US are very much
committed to tackle this.
So, I don't think that we will -- we won't reach this sort of extreme situation in which that extreme amount of losses are experienced, so I'm
optimistic and I think we can make it all together.
SIDNER: You are more optimistic than I am, and I thank you for that. Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate your time.
GARCIA-LEON: Thank you very much, Sara.
SIDNER: Speaking of farmers, as European farmers cope with drought and heat, the Russian President was talking with his Turkish counterpart about
grain shipments out of Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin met face-to-face with the Presidents of Turkey and Iran in Tehran. It is his second foreign trip since the start of the war in
Ukraine. He struck an upbeat tone while speaking to Turkey's President Erdogan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I would like to thank you for your mediation efforts for providing a platform for
negotiations on food issues, on issues of grain transportation over the Black Sea.
We have moved forward, thanks to your mediation. Not all the issues are resolved, but there is a movement forward and that is good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: The CEO of Volkswagen is calling for dialogue when it comes to conflict in Europe. Herbert Diess told us about his perspective on Ukraine,
and on the world economy. That is coming up next.
SIDNER: The CEO of Volkswagen Group tells CNN he believes there must be dialogue to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. Herbert Diess spoke to Rahel
Solomon earlier today from the carmaker's factory in Tennessee.
He explained his stance and told her about the company's electric SUVs.
HERBERT DIESS, CEO, VOLKSWAGEN GROUP: I think in some ways, it wouldn't be so much of a problem, but in wintertime it would hurt the economy, and
would lead to kind of probably delays in production.
But so far, I think that we can manage and not the entire Europe would be affected, mostly probably northern part of Germany and some parts of Italy.
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Earlier this year, you said on "60 Minutes" that you believe that Volkswagen and you as well have a moral
responsibility, perhaps more of a moral responsibility to speak on certain things that have happened. After that interview aired, you made some
comments that certainly got a lot of attention. So, it also sparked some outrage about doing the utmost to really stop this war and get back to
negotiations and get back to trying to open up the world again.
Do you regret making those comments or do you want to clarify those comments?
DIESS: No, I still think -- no, I still think that it would be very negative for the world if we get into a new bloc building. The world was
flourishing in the past decades because of a multipolar world where we had trade with each other, and we used the best economies of scale and the most
competitive areas to deliver and make trade with each other. And I think this is the best scenario we have for the world.
And this is why I always call for dialogue worldwide, because so far, what we've seen that warfare doesn't really help.
SOLOMON: I do want to get back to the business of Volkswagen. Now you have said that you believe Volkswagen can catch up to Tesla, of course, the
leader in the EV space by 2025. That's a pretty strong prediction. Do you still feel that way?
DIESS: Yes. We still feel that way, and we are just investing here in Chattanooga, launching our cars. We introduced the EV cars here, it was
well received. It is coming to the market next year.
We have a huge model range coming up, and we have now five plants wrapping up EVs at the same time, three in Europe, Chattanooga, two in China. So
this is why I'm still confident that we, at least, we can close the gap to catch up.
SOLOMON: I wonder, though, as Volkswagen, of course, like many other automakers has dealt with supply chain issues, the chips shortage, higher
cause just across the board. What has the appetite been like for consumers to absorb some of those costs? Or are you starting to see some demand
destruction and people starting to bristle at higher costs?
DIESS: Yes, we had to pass some of the costs forward now, but the demand for cars is still high and people are prepared to pay for a good quality
car. And so this is -- the constraints are alleviating a little bit.
Now, the semiconductor supply is getting better and better by the week. Basically, I see a much better supplies for the second half of this year.
Also, you can see it in our economic figures, we are making good profits.
SOLOMON: And Elon Musk, of course, the leader of Tesla, your biggest competitor has said in recent weeks that he has a super bad feeling about
the economy. I'm wondering from your vantage point globally, what is your feeling about the state of the economy and where we're heading?
DIESS: I only can say that our scenario is not as bleak because we have high demand. We have an order bank in Europe, this 1.8 million vehicle
which is the highest ever in history. China is taking up again electrification, which helps us because we have many EVs come to the
market. It is a worldwide trend in China, it's already 25 percent in America, EV sales are growing in Europe. They are growing.
So I don't see such a negative scenario. Will we have another cool down? Our industry always have been a cyclical industry. And so yes, we can
expect that probably since some of the reasons are cooling down a little bit.
But we have a strong product portfolio. We have been investing early in electrification in EVs. We have strong brands. So I'm relatively positive
about our perspective, at least for the next nine to 12 months.
SIDNER: Twitter has racked up an early victory in its Court battle against Elon Musk.
A Judge ruled Tuesday that its lawsuit against him should go to a five-day trial in October. Twitter is suing to force Musk to complete his $44
billion bid for the company. The shorter timeline suits Twitter well. It had filed a motion to expedite the proceedings.
Paul La Monica joins me now live.
Paul, this is a Battle Royale between someone who likes to use Twitter and also was going to buy Twitter. What does Twitter want to get and why do
they want to get this decided so quickly?
PAUL LA MONICA, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, this deal, Sara, was supposed to close at the end of October before Elon Musk decided that he was no
longer interested in purchasing the social media company. So I think Twitter really just wants some clarity here.
They want to either be able to find a way to force Musk to follow through on his word and actually purchase the company for $44 billion at $54.20 a
share, that's a lot more than where the stock is currently trading. So investors including Twitter executives would profit handsomely if the deal
LA MONICA: But I think, there is also a bit of gamesmanship here that maybe they can have a settlement with Musk if a deal doesn't go through.
Potentially they may be able to force him to pay a little bit more to back out of this deal.
But I think ultimately, Twitter sees the writing on the wall. This is a company that has struggled within the social media realm to, you know,
really stay relevant, even though people in the media and politics love Twitter, investors haven't exactly fallen in love with the company the same
way Facebook, Meta, TikTok. They are far more compelling platforms right now that more people I think are using.
SIDNER: Right. And look, investors fall in love with something that makes a lot of money and Twitter compared to the others, not so much.
Did we learn anything today about what the tone of this trial will be? Because I will tell you, when people first saw this fight happen, they
pulled out the bin of popcorn, and we're just ready for the madness. Right?
But this affects real people's lives, jobs, and policy as well.
LA MONICA: Yes, I think that Sara, one thing that remains to be seen is, what is the future of Twitter going to be assuming Elon Musk doesn't
actually buy them and maybe he pays Twitter a little bit more of a breakup fee? But that really isn't going to solve some of Twitter's longer term
issues, which is trying to stay relevant in a rapidly changing social media world.
And you're right, if Twitter has to go into a retrenchment mode and cut jobs that impacts a lot of real people that work for Twitter and I think
there are concerns. I don't think necessarily that Twitter will go away, but if we haven't had another so called White Knight step in to make an
offer for Twitter just yet you have to scratch your head and wonder if Musk wasn't going to be the guy, is there anyone out there that would want to
SIDNER: And that is a question I'm sure a lot of investors are looking at, too. Thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate you.
Coming up next, London's Fire Brigade declared a major incident -- look at those pictures -- as it races to control several huge blazes. We are live
in the UK capital.
SIDNER: We return now to our top story. Europe's forecaster warns France, Spain, Italy and the U.K. are at extreme risk of fire as temperatures break
London's fire brigade has declared a major incident, as it fought several blazes across the capital. Around 100 firefighters are battling an outbreak
on an open green near a suburb in the east. The temperature in U.K. topped 40 degrees C for the first time ever. Today.
A fire brigade official said. London has never seen weather related incidents on this scale before. Nina dos Santos joins me now live.
Tell me what your experience and what it feels like and also why it is so dangerous because other places in the world may be used to these kind of
temperatures but certainly not London, not the U.K.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: That is an excellent question. You hit the nail on the head. This is a country that is not used to extreme
changes in temperature and as a result it is of the well-equipped to deal with them.
The infrastructure is older, not many places are air conditioned. When it comes to public transport in the capital city only 50 percent of it is air
conditioned. That's newer public transport.
It gives you an idea of how difficult it is for them to have to deal with this. And when it comes to fire departments, they're not used to dealing
with big fires that you see in other parts of Europe. Thousands of firefighters have extreme experience in dealing with these events. It's
different. In East London about three and half miles from where I am standing, there is a fire that has now engulfed houses.
So the mayor had declared this to be an emergency situation, and so has the fire brigade. But many people are saying this is something that the U.K.
and other countries in Europe are just going to have to get more used to and plan for.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): They made it through the U.K.'s hottest ever night bracing for the nation's hottest ever day. For the first time the
country's weather service recorded a temperature above 40 degrees C or 104 Fahrenheit.
This is the only time the Met Office has ever issued a red warning for extreme heat.
PENNY ENDERSBY, U.K. MET OFFICE: Here in the U.K. we're used to treating hot spells a chance to go and play in the sun. This is not that sort of
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The government is telling its citizens to be aware of heat related deaths, with the elderly and young most at risk. They
say at least three teenagers have died after getting into rivers and ponds amid the record heat.
Airport runways are melting, reservoirs are running dry and wheat has been harvested early with the fields vulnerable to fire. The sun is even
buckling train tracks leading to mass cancellations and warnings for commuters to stay at home.
For a country more used to complaining about rainy summers, this may be the new normal.
GRANT SHAPPS, BRITISH TRANSPORT SECRETARY: Infrastructure, much of which was built from the Victorian times, it just was not built to withstand this
type of temperature and it will be many years before we can replace infrastructure with the kind of structure that could, because the
temperatures are just so extreme.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Nine out of 10 of the hottest British days have been recorded since 1990. The government estimates these extreme
temperatures have been made 10 times more likely by human impact.
Opposition leaders have criticized the Prime Minister Boris Johnson escaping national security meetings on the heat wave. He told cabinet on
Tuesday that the heat wave vindicated his net zero pledge.
But on the anniversary of the reopening of the country from COVID-19 lockdowns, he still played down the risk.
BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: On another scorching, sweltering day, I think it's very, very important that we think back to that moment when we
opened up and try and balance risk with the need to keep our country, society and our economy moving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government is not doing nothing and in fact the world is doing nothing. The world is burning and we are doing nothing about
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have never had this kind of heat.
So why would be prepared?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we just have to adapt somewhere; our homes have to change, our way of life has to change.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): That change may be necessary even in countries more accustomed to extreme summers. The heat wave is running across the
whole of the European continent. Wildfires are raging from Spain to France and Portugal. People are suffering and growing desperate, leading to
dramatic scenes like this one in Spain's northwest similar region.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): A man drives an excavator across burning fields in a desperate attempt to dig a trench and safeguard his town. Within
seconds, the flames engulfed the machine.
He dives for safety, running with the clothes singed off his back.
Tens of thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes in southern Europe, unclear if they'll ever return.
"Impotence," this man says, "I feel so impotent. There is no solution."
Record temperatures set across western France this week. Ireland was the hottest in a century and now Germany is next. South to north, Europe
DOS SANTOS: Sara, this is something that is going to become more and more frequent climate change scientists say. In fact there was just a report
just a few weeks ago that was warning that the U.K. could see temperatures hit 40 degrees C.
It seemed extreme back then but that was not that long ago. Now obviously, the Rubicon has been passed. It probably will not be the first time the
U.K. will hit these scorching temperatures in the future, they say.
SIDNER: Nina, I am so glad you brought that up. I had a conversation with one of the preeminent climate scientists and professors, who said this is
not the new normal. No, the new normal will be hotter and hotter and hotter as the years go forward.
Is there any possibility that the U.K. and Europe, that is not used to these temperatures, can deal with this?
Because the infrastructure just is not there and it is a lot of infrastructure.
DOS SANTOS: Yes, absolutely. Also, the novel of the public transport is equipped to deal with this, including the newly built infrastructure. The
station behind me, King's Cross Station, is a major railway hub for the U.K.
But it's been empty all day and it's had to shut it doors early because there have been no trains on the tracks. Normally millions of people go
through these doors every single day. But they can't get to and from work if the train tracks start to expand and buckle under this kind of heat,
which is what happened today.
All of this will affect people's lives. And it also affects their ability to conduct their livelihoods and the economy, which is what the government
is very concerned about at the moment.
You heard Boris Johnson allude to this, saying we've had to press the pause button on the economy so many times before, we shouldn't be alarmist in the
short term but in the long term we need to plan to keep some of these net zero pledges.
Now net zero is a huge issue in the U.K. because of course Boris Johnson is about to leave office and is going to be replaced by somebody from the
Conservative Party. Where they stand on the future issue, whether it is investing to convince future generations that climate change is so urgent
is going to be part of that offering.
And today really has been a wake-up call for the U.K., the keypad on the climate change agenda.
SIDNER: Nina dos Santos, great job from King's Cross. Try to stay cool.
Jonathan Smith is an assistant commissioner for the London fire brigade. He joins me now.
Jonathan, can you tell me right now -- we are looking at the stunning pictures of the -- East London.
Can you tell me what the status of that fire is at this moment?
JONATHAN SMITH, LONDON FIRE BRIGADE: So as we said at the moment we are bringing a number of significant incidents under control. This has been an
unprecedented day in the history of the London fire brigade, where we've been subjected to extremes of heat and temperature that have caused a
number of weather-related incidents throughout today.
Earlier on in the afternoon, we declared a major incident because of the numbers of calls that we were receiving and the number of incidents that we
attended. The incidents have ranged from very serious incidents, like the one you are referring to in east London, to smaller ones.
It has stretched our resources across the capital. What I would say is the brigade has been preparing for these extremes in temperatures for some time
now, whether it is heat related or wide-area flooding. We're making sure our firefighters are properly trained and equipped to deal with these
But today has been an unprecedented day. We are bringing these files under control. We are now planning for the next 24 and 48 hours to make sure
we've got all the right resources in the right place to deal with any other weather-related incidents that might happen as the week progresses.
SIDNER: I hear from our meteorologists that we are going to start seeing at least a bit of relief, that temperatures are not expected to go up but
come down a bit.
But when you look at these places and you look at these temperatures of 40 degrees C, that is 104 degrees F, how are your members?
SIDNER: How are firefighters dealing with this heat?
Because they are often covered in equipment to try to battle these blazes.
SMITH: They're working incredibly hard as you can imagine over the course of the last 12 hours in particular. Our firefighters are fit; they're well-
trained. They are used to operating in hot conditions. It is the nature of firefighting but firefighting like this, in these times of extreme
temperatures, tests anyone.
We are making sure that the welfare of our fire crews and officers, at the forefront of our incident commanders, thinking so we are bringing in relief
crews at the earliest opportunity, making sure people are well hydrated.
We make sure that personal protective equipment they're wearing is appropriate and that people are able to cool down and rest, because we know
though we might go under the initial surge, we need to make sure we have people fresh and ready to go throughout the week.
SIDNER: Any updates on exactly how much damage has happened in and around the areas that you cover and if there has been any injury or death during
these terrible fires?
SMITH: So at the moment we have not got a firm update on any potential casualties, which is -- which is natural the moment because of the numbers
of incidents that we have attended.
There is no doubt that there has been widespread damage to crops. We're going to need to work that through to understand what that looks like. And
we will report on those figures in the next 12 hours or so. At the moment on I am unable to give you any exact figures in terms of casualties.
What I would say is that the fire brigade have responded to all of these incidents and bring them under control as quickly as possible. And we hope
we're over the worst of it. But moving forward we need to make sure that we remain vigilant and ready to go.
SIDNER: Jonathan Smith, London fire brigade, I thank you so much for taking time out of your extremely busy day that has been extremely
difficult for firefighters and those who have lost property. I appreciate your time.
Still ahead, much more on the intense heat wave gripping the U.K. and Europe.
How long will that last?
Our meteorologist has the forecast.
SIDNER: More now on our top story. Emergency crews in London are battling multiple fires this hour during an extraordinary heat wave. More than 100
firefighters have been deployed to this eastern suburb alone, where houses you can see have been engulfed by flames.
Officials say the fires were directly sparked by the intensely hot weather today. The U.K. provisionally registered temperatures above 40 degrees C.
That is 104 Fahrenheit for the very first time.
If the numbers are confirmed this would be the hottest day in Britain's recorded history.
SIDNER: As the heat wave batters Europe, we'll look at the damages already caused and the threat it still poses.
SIDNER: Moments ago in Washington, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says Russia is installing illegitimate officials in Ukrainian
territory under its control. He just spoke to reporters at the White House. He added that Russia is forcing Ukrainian citizens to apply for Russian
citizenship and that the U.S. will not allow this action to go unpunished.
Now this is all happening as Putin makes his only second visit since outside of Russia since he ordered the invasion into Ukraine. He is
speaking with leaders of Tehran. Perhaps angling for more weapons to use against Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We have information today, including from downgraded intelligence that we're able to share with
you about how Russia is laying the groundwork to annex Ukrainian territory that it controls in direct violation of Ukraine sovereignty.
We're seeing ample evidence in the intelligence and in the public domain how Russia intends to try to annex additional Ukrainian territory. Russia
is beginning the roll out a version of what you could call an annexation playbook, very similar to one we saw in 2014.
Already, Russia is installing illegitimate proxy officials in areas in Ukraine that are under its control. And we know their next moves. First,
these proxy officials will arrange sham referenda on joining Russia.
Then Russia will use those sham referenda as a basis to try to claim annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory. The Russian government is
reviewing detailed plans to purportedly annex a number of regions in Ukraine, including Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, all of Donetsk and Luhansk
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Returning to our top story, record heat across much of Europe. Fires have already burned thousands of hectares and many places are still
under threat. CNN's Melissa Bell reports from France.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Southern Europe inflames vast swathes of the Mediterranean engulfed by wildfires driven by the
sweltering temperatures of Europe's second heat wave this summer.
From Portugal through Spain, Italy and France, were one of two massive fires near the city of Bordeaux continue to rage and spread.
Down here on the ground, you get a real sense of what the firefighters are facing. These parched conditions, the earth already dry for so many months
of high temperatures and those high temperatures still continuing.
BELL: What the firemen -- in this case French Air Force firemen -- are having to do is find those parts of the fire inside the contained zone and
put them out as quickly as they can.
For nearly a week now, temperatures across Europe have soared. In Spain and Portugal, more than a thousand people have died amid record heat, with
temperatures set to rise further and as far north as the United Kingdom.
STEVE BARCLAY, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: Well, the clear message to the public is to take the sensible steps in terms of water, shade and cover.
We're asking people to keep an eye out for their neighbors and those who may be vulnerable.
BELL: The Rome region has declared a state of emergency. After several weeks of drought, some Italian towns now banning the use of water for
washing cars and watering gardens with fines of up to $500.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's ridiculous because the population tries to save money by having a vegetable garden and then you
prevent them from watering your garden but the vegetable garden, it's absurd.
BELL: These are the beaches of southwestern France, the Atlantic coast where so much of France is accustomed to coming to spend its summer
holidays and yet the beaches completely evacuated, the camping grounds as well. Many of those thousands of people who've been asked to go elsewhere,
where people who'd come here on holiday.
To places like Cazaux now the scene of a battle being waged day and night in the face of record temperatures and changing winds.
COL. JEROME FLEITH, FRENCH AIR FORCE (through translator): There is no letup in our efforts, it tests our equipment and our men but we have to
hold the line for as long as it takes.
BELL: A desperate battle against time and temperatures that are set to rise further still -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Cazaux, France.
SIDNER: She really gave you a true picture of the dangers out there.
And that is it for the show. I am Sara Sidner here in London. The new continues on CNN. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" is next.