Another heatwave is heading for the UK, worsening drought conditions that have already led to garden hose bans in parts of the country.
Although temperatures will remain below record From highs of 40.3°C (105°F) seen last month, this latest heat wave is expected to last much longer.
High pressure building across the UK could lead to temperatures of 35C (95F) – and the heat wave is expected to peak on Friday or Saturday.
Britons are now being urged not to hold barbecues in dry conditions amid fears that fireworks and sky lanterns could ignite “large scale” fires in parched areas.
Find out the five-day forecast for where you live
On Saturday, 15 homes were evacuated after a garden fire spiraled out of control in Essex – with “several gardens, sheds and outbuildings” destroyed and a dozen properties damaged.
Around 40 people fled their homes and seven required treatment for injuries and smoke inhalation.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Regional Manager Neil Fenwick said: “While the summer weather usually provides the perfect opportunity to have a barbecue or gather around a fireplace in the evening , we strongly discourage people from having any type of fire at this time.”
The whole of England and Wales is expected to feel the effects of the heatwave as the high pressure builds – “with sunny and very warm if not hot conditions” in Scotland and Northern Ireland as it approaches the weekend.
Met Office meteorologist Tom Morgan said: ‘It looks like an extended spell of dry weather and that’s obviously bad news for the south of England where some rain would really help now.’
Although there is uncertainty as to which regions will experience the highest temperatures, early predictions suggest they could be found in the West Midlands and West Country.
Mr Morgan said heatwave criteria were likely to be met across the UK, which could put a strain on the NHS as the most vulnerable suffer from heat-related problems.
“We’re quite confident that the temperatures won’t go as high as they did in July, but the difference is that it’s going to be quite a long period of temperatures in the low 30s, so it will be nonetheless very notable,” he added. .
Tips for avoiding overheating include closing curtains and windows during the day and avoiding exposure to the midday sun.
During the weekend, Environment Secretary George Eustice has ‘strongly urged’ UK water companies to enforce watering bans.
At present, residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are subject to temporary restrictions on their energy consumption – with similar rules coming into force in Sussex, Kent and Pembrokeshire later this month – this.