Correspondent Neil Connery heard from a Londoner who escaped a wildfire thought to have started on tinder-dry ground
Britain is braced for another heatwave that will last longer than July’s record-breaking hot spell, with highs of up to 35C expected next week, forecasters have said.
Temperatures over the coming days will remain lower than last month’s scorching 40.3C but the warmth will continue over a “prolonged period”, the Met Office has said.
The Met Office’s fire severity index (FSI), an assessment of how severe a fire could become if one were to start, is very high for most of England and Wales, and will reach “exceptional” for a swathe of England by the weekend.
People have been urged not to host barbecues or uses chimeneas - small outdoor stoves used for cooking and heating - in the tinder-dry conditions.
The warning comes after a fire, caused by a chimenea, ripped through 15 gardens in Essex. Essex Fire and Rescue Service said around 40 people were forced to flee properties and more than a dozen homes were damaged on Saturday.
Area manager Neil Fenwick said: “While summer weather usually provides the perfect opportunity to host a barbecue or gather around a chiminea in the evening, we’re strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment."
The fire service also warned against setting off fireworks or sky lanterns, which could spark a “large-scale” blaze in parched areas.
In Truro, Cornwall, more than 40 firefighters tackled a large wildfire that burned through dry grassland on Saturday.
Nearby, in Devon and Somerset, firefighters called for a ban on disposable barbecues. They revealed the cookers had "caused multiple callouts" over a 24-hour period.
Weather presenter Becky Mantin explains what is behind the current prolonged hot spell
On Thursday, the recent warm weather sparked a 100-foot barn fire in Wales.
The whole of England and Wales is likely to see such weather continue over the coming week as high pressure builds across the UK.
Parts of north-west Scotland may be cloudier and breezier up to Wednesday, but fine weather is expected for all areas of the country later in the week.
It comes after Sunday brought wall-to-wall sunshine for most of Britain, with a high of 28.1C recorded in Frittenden, Kent.
Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: “It will be a lot of sunshine for a vast majority of the UK and also temperatures rising day after day.
“Not everyone will initially see those sunny conditions, but towards the end of the week even Scotland and Northern Ireland will join the rest of the UK in having generally fine, sunny and very warm if not hot conditions.
“It does look like a prolonged period of dry weather and obviously that’s bad news for southern England where some rain would really be useful now.
“In terms of temperatures we’re looking at them build from 28C or 29C tomorrow to the low to mid 30s from Thursday onwards, so a fairly widespread heatwave developing across the UK this week.
“The peak of the temperatures look likely to occur on Friday or Saturday.”
Mr Morgan said the West Midlands and West Country could see the highest temperatures, with a maximum of around 35C predicted, but added this was still uncertain.
He added: “The heatwave we saw at the end of July, that was relatively short-lived and saw exceptionally high, record-breakingly high temperatures.
“We’re quite confident temperatures will not go as high as they did during July, but the difference is that this is going to be quite a prolonged period of temperatures in the low 30s, so it will be very notable nonetheless.
“Heatwave criteria are likely to be met across many parts of the UK and there will no doubt be some adverse impacts from heatwave exhaustion, dehydration and so on, so we do anticipate some potentially adverse effects to the NHS and more vulnerable people having heat-related problems through this period of time.”
The Met Office has urged people to follow precautions to avoid becoming overheated, including closing curtains and windows during the day and avoiding the midday sun.
It comes after the environment secretary urged more water companies to impose hosepipe bans during an unusually dry August.
George Eustice said some firms have already “rightly” taken action to mitigate the effects of the prolonged dry weather as he encouraged others to follow suit.
His remarks, the first public intervention by ministers, signal possible restrictions on watering gardens, washing cars or filling pools with hosepipes for millions more people across southern England in the coming days.
Southern Water has already imposed a hosepipe ban for customers in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight, followed exactly a week later for South East Water customers in Kent and Sussex.
Welsh Water has also announced a ban for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire later this month.
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