On Thursday, a four-day “extreme heat” warning was issued for portions of England and Wales, with temperatures expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius in another heatwave that could trigger wildfires and strain water supplies and transportation systems.

The Met Office said its amber warning, the second-most severe after red, will be in effect until the end of Sunday, and warned that persons who are susceptible to intense heat may suffer health consequences.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday and may reach 36 degrees Celsius in certain areas on Saturday.

“The grass in London is tinderbox dry and the smallest of sparks can start a blaze which could cause devastation,” London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said on Thursday.

340 grass, garbage, and open field fires were put out in the first week of August, compared to 42 in the same week last year, according to the brigade, which experienced its busiest week since World War Two during July’s heatwave.

The Met Office has upgraded its forecast for fire severity in London and other parts of England in the next days to “exceptional” or category 5, the highest rating.

The warning comes after England experienced its driest July since 1935, when temperatures surpassed 40 degrees Celsius for the first time, drawing attention to the effects of climate change. 

Other European countries have also experienced a searing heatwave in recent weeks, with temperatures frequently topping 40 degrees Celsius.

During the July heatwave, Britain, which is not used to such high temperatures, experienced power outages, runway and rail track damage, and scores of fires in London that damaged buildings and vehicles.

On Wednesday, Britain’s environment minister, George Eustice, encouraged water firms to take safeguards to protect water supplies and mitigate the effects of extended dry weather. 

Several water companies have already imposed water consumption limitations, and supermarkets have prohibited sales of disposable grills, which firefighters say might ignite tinder-dry grass.

This week’s amber alert comes on the heels of Britain’s first-ever red “Extreme Heat” warning in July.

Source: Reuters

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