More grass fires break out amid dry and sweltering conditions

The effects of the UK's tinder-dry conditions are becoming increasingly clear, Neil Connery reports

More grass fires have broken out amid the weekend's dry, sweltering conditions.

Among Saturday's blazes was a fire in the Cornish town of Camborne. Just after 3pm, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said eight fire appliances were trying to control the blaze on Kerrier Way.

The risk of wildfires is high as the UK has been extremely dry for an extended period of time, and vegetation has been "baked dry", the Met Office's Dan Stroud said.

People play football on parched grass on Parker’s Piece in Cambridge, as a drought has been declared for parts of England. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA

An amber heat warning is in place covering most of England and Wales, where temperatures reached a high of 34.9C on Saturday.

In the capital, where record-breaking heat in July prompted a number of devastating blazes, 70 firefighters were called to a blaze in Enfield. An area measuring about 900m by 600m was alight on Saturday, London Fire Brigade (LFB) said. The fire produced a lot of smoke over the M25 between junctions 25 and 26, it added, warning: "The smallest of sparks can start a blaze which could cause devastation."

In Nottinghamshire, police are appealing for information following a large fire in Mansfield.

People walk on the dry cracked earth at Baitings Reservoir in Ripponden, West Yorkshire Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Officers said a field, a nearby house and a number of vehicles were damaged because of the flames.

“This incident should serve as a reminder to everyone about the dangers of lighting fires in grasslands, especially in hot weather like we’re experiencing this weekend," Nottinghamshire police's Sergeant Joseph Hall said.

In Dorset, a team of firefighters worked through the night to bring a wildfire at Studland under control, which was believed to have been sparked by a disposable barbecue. Dorset Police said on Saturday afternoon firefighters had discovered an unexploded piece of ammunition believed to date to the Second World War on the scorched heathland.

It is understood no injuries occurred in any of the aforementioned fires.

Following a spate of drownings during last month's heatwaves, South Yorkshire Police said a body was found on Saturday after a man got into difficulty in a lake.

Emergency services responded to reports that a man in his 20s was in trouble at Lakeside, Doncaster.

On Sunday, a yellow warning for thunderstorms will be place from noon on Sunday until 6am on Monday for most of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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This warning means there is a “small chance” of flooding in these nations and the potential for power cuts.

The Met Office's amber heat warning means heat-related illnesses including sunburn and heat exhaustion are “likely” among the general population, and delays to public transport are “possible.”

An official drought was declared in eight areas of England on Friday by the National Drought Group (NDG), which comprises representatives from the Government, water companies, the Environment Agency (EA) and others.

England’s drought could persist into the next year, according to the EA.

John Curtin, executive director for local operations at the EA, said that after the driest summer in 50 years, it would take “weeks’ worth of rain” to replenish water sources.

The announcement could lead to more measures such as hosepipe bans, however, the EA has reassured the public that essential water supplies are safe.

Eight of 14 areas designated by the EA have now moved to “drought”, the second stage, including Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and South London, Herts and North London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and East Midlands.

Three water companies – Welsh Water, Southern Water, and South East Water – have all imposed hosepipe bans, while Yorkshire Water has announced a ban will start on August 26 and Thames Water is planning one in the coming weeks.