Britons were today warned to take extra care with cigarette butts and barbecues because of the heatwave and ‘tinder dry’ ground after lower-than-average rainfall this year, with wildfires already breaking out across the UK

Britons were today warned to take extra care with cigarette butts and barbecues because of the heatwave and ‘tinder dry’ ground after lower-than-average rainfall this year, with wildfires already breaking out across the UK.

As huge blazes rage across Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, fire crews are urging people to go for picnics instead of barbecues, following a spate of grass fires blamed on disposable sets abandoned in rural areas after use.

Dozens of soldiers have been pulled from a training exercise to help battle the Salisbury Plain fires which began around noon yesterday, but cannot be tackled by firefighters due to the location posing an explosives risk.

The soldiers are tackling the fires which have caused a smoke plume to spread across Wiltshire, which can be seen and smelt in the Swindon area.Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has advised people to close their windows and doors to avoid breathing in the toxic fumes from the fire which is set to rage on for several days.

Elsewhere, 20 firefighters tackled a blaze at a solar farm at Verwood in Dorset, where a 500ft by 330ft patch of grass was ablaze for three hours at the 113-acre site which has 81,400 panels – some of which were damaged. 

Fire crews in Norfolk have battled more than 50 fires over the past 48 hours with undergrowth left parched after weeks with little rain, amid warnings that one spark from a match could set areas alight.And part of a main road linking Norfolk and Suffolk – the A140 at Stonham Barns – now requires repairs after it began to melt in the heat. 

Temperatures have already hit 32C (90F) this week and will do so again today before dipping slightly between tomorrow and Friday – then bouncing back at the weekend with an unprecedented 40C (104F) possible.

Households are being urged to save water as the temperatures push up demand after months of dry weather in some areas.Water companies say they are not yet planning to bring in restrictions such as hosepipe bans, but some are warning that groundwater and reservoir supplies are lower than average following low rainfall this year.

Industry body Water UK said people can turn off taps when brushing their teeth or washing dishes, only run dishwashers when full, switch the garden hose for watering cans, reuse paddling pool water for plants, let the lawn go brown and avoiding washing cars.The Royal Horticultural Society is advising gardeners to avoid watering their gardens in the hottest parts of the day, let lawns grow long without watering them, and install a water butt to capture rainwater from summer showers or storms that would otherwise run off the hard-baked ground.

Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth has now declared a ‘critical incident’ due to staff sickness and the prolonged hot weather, with staff having to prioritise emergencies amid ‘extreme pressure on services’.

And continental recipe South Oxfordshire District Council warned that bin collections could have to stop because of the heat – with residents advised to leave bins out for two days after their scheduled collection if they are not emptied.

Meanwhile homeless charities have activated a severe weather response to offer emergency shelter to anyone sleeping rough; while schools across North Staffordshire are telling students to remove their blazers and ties.

It comes as the Met Office today extended an extreme heat amber warning into next week – and unions urged companies to allow staff to work from home and Britain prepared for what could be its warmest day on record.

Meteorologists had yesterday issued an extreme heat warning for Sunday, but today this was extended for all of Monday – saying that the heat will be ‘likely peaking on Sunday and Monday, but may last into Tuesday in places’.

Temperatures have already hit 32C (90F) this week and will do so again today before dipping slightly between tomorrow and Friday – then bouncing back at the weekend with an unprecedented 40C (104F) possible. 

Forecasters warned of ‘widespread impacts to people and infrastructure’ in the life-threatening Saharan heatwave that could cripple travel networks, trigger power blackouts, and cause ‘potential serious illness or danger to life’.

Temperatures hit 31.4C (86.9F) in Surrey at 1pm today, while London was at 30.2C (86.4F) and Hampshire was at 30C (86F) by the same time.The mercury had already reached 28C (82F) by 9am in the capital this morning.

The scene on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire today where wildfires have been spreading amid the heatwave conditions

The scene on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire today where wildfires have been spreading amid the heatwave conditions

On Salisbury Plain today, a blaze on open land in a military training area near Urchfont has sent a plume of smoke into the sky

On Salisbury Plain today, a blaze on open land in a military training area near Urchfont has sent a plume of smoke into the sky

Emergency services on Salisbury Plain today as the wildfires have led to calls for local residents to keep their windows shut

Emergency services on Salisbury Plain today as the wildfires have led to calls for local residents to keep their windows shut

Dozens of soldiers have been pulled from a training exercise to help battle numerous major wildfires on Salisbury Plain today

Dozens of soldiers have been pulled from a training exercise to help battle numerous major wildfires on Salisbury Plain today

The scene on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire today where wildfires have been spreading amid the heatwave conditions

The scene on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire today where wildfires have been spreading amid the heatwave conditions

A fire on open land in a military training area on Salisbury Plain near Urchfont continues today with smoke sent into the sky

A fire on open land in a military training area on Salisbury Plain near Urchfont continues today with smoke sent into the sky

Tomorrow's forecast

Thursday's forecast

Friday's forecast

DORSET: An aerial view of a solar farm in Verwood, Dorset, taken yesterday - after it suffered a major fire on Monday

An aerial view of the solar farm in Verwood, Dorset, which was taken today – after it suffered a major fire yesterday afternoon

Firefighters tackle a large fire at a solar farm at Verwood in Dorset yesterday, where a 500ft by 330ft patch of grass was alight

Firefighters tackle a large fire at a solar farm at Verwood in Dorset yesterday, where a 500ft by 330ft patch of grass was alight

A 500ft by 330ft patch of grass was on fire for three hours at the 113-acre site which has 81,400 panels in Verwood, Dorset

A 500ft by 330ft patch of grass was on fire for three hours at the 113-acre site which has 81,400 panels in Verwood, Dorset

Photos of the fire at the solar farm in Verwood, Dorset, yesterday show flames under the panels as crews battled the blaze

Photos of the fire at the solar farm in Verwood, Dorset, yesterday show flames under the panels as crews battled the blaze

The incident at the solar farm was attended by crews from Verwood, Ferndown, Wimborne, Cranborne, Ringwood and Poole

The incident at the solar farm was attended by crews from Verwood, Ferndown, Wimborne, Cranborne, Ringwood and Poole

An aerial view taken on Tuesday of what is left of crops that were on fire on Monday during a blaze in Ripon, North Yorkshire

An aerial view of what is left of crops that were on fire yesterday during a blaze in Ripon, North Yorkshire

The fire in Ripon, North Yorkshire, yesterday which destroyed a large area of farm crops as the heatwave continues

The fire in Ripon, North Yorkshire, yesterday which destroyed a large area of farm crops as the heatwave continues

Two people play badminton on the brown dried grass at Greenwich Park in South East London this afternoon

Scorched grass seen from above on the football fields at Hackney Marshes in East London this afternoon

Scorched grass seen from above on the football fields at Hackney Marshes in East London this afternoon

Cracked earth at Parliament Square in London is pictured this afternoon in the hot weather as the heatwave continues

Cracked earth at Parliament Square in London is pictured this afternoon in the hot weather as the heatwave continues

Scorched grass at Forest recreation ground in Nottingham is pictured from above today as the heatwave conditions continue

Scorched grass at Forest recreation ground in Nottingham is pictured from above today as the heatwave conditions continue

Dry grass surrounds Leeds Castle in Kent today as the heatwave conditions continue across England

Dry grass surrounds Leeds Castle in Kent today as the heatwave conditions continue across England

Scorched grass at Forest recreation ground in Nottingham is pictured from above today as the heatwave conditions continue

Scorched grass at Forest recreation ground in Nottingham is pictured from above today as the heatwave conditions continue

Dry fields surround the The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent, this afternoon during the summer heatwave

Dry fields surround the The Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent, this afternoon during the summer heatwave 

Scorched grass at Forest recreation ground in Nottingham is pictured from above today as the heatwave conditions continue

Scorched grass at Forest recreation ground in Nottingham is pictured from above today as the heatwave conditions continue

KENT: A drone view of Bewl Water Reservoir near Lamberhurst this week, where sand can be seen near the jetty in the water

A drone view of Bewl Water Reservoir near Lamberhurst in Kent today, where sand can be seen near the jetty in the water

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service posted this tweet yesterday of crews putting out a fire. The force told its followers: 'It's hot and dry this week, this means wildfire risk is extremely high. Please enjoy Norfolk's greenspaces safely this summer'

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service posted this tweet yesterday of crews putting out a fire.The force told its followers: ‘It’s hot and dry this week, this means wildfire risk is extremely high. Please enjoy Norfolk’s greenspaces safely this summer’

And the Trades Union Congress is calling for an absolute maximum indoor temperature of 30C (86F) – or 27C (81F) for those doing strenuous jobs – to legally indicate when work should stop.No official limit currently exists.

It also wants firms to allow staff to come in earlier or stay later to ‘avoid the stifling and unpleasant conditions of the rush hour commute’, adding: ‘Bosses should also consider enabling staff to work from home while it is hot.’

<div class="art-ins mol-factbox news halfRHS" data-version="2" id="mol-d9eb5930-01ed-11ed-9aa4-ad0a1b4b7b86" website call for staff to work from home amid UK heatwave warning

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