UK heatwave: Risk of wildfires in England and parts of Wales raised to ‘very high’ | UK News

The wildfire risk has been raised to ‘very high’ across much of England and parts of Wales.

The Met Office’s Fire Severity Index shows the heatwave and lack of rain are combining to create dry conditions.

And they should last the rest of the week.

an extreme fires the warning already covers north-east Scotland as temperatures soar, with firefighters sent to tackle a fire that broke out near Iverness on Saturday.

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Forest fire still rages in Scotland

It is highly unusual for the risk to be assessed so high so early in the summer.

Normally, humid conditions produce lush vegetation for several more weeks.

But the landscape is so dry this year that there is plenty of fuel for the fires.

UK Wildfire tactical adviser Craig Hope said the risk had become “high” with climate change.

He said: “It’s very early in the summer and last year when we had the fires in London it was extreme, but it was much later in the year.

“The way this year is going to build now is quite worrying.”

UK Wildfire Tactical Advisor, Craig Hope
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UK Wildfire Tactical Advisor, Craig Hope

Sky News joined firefighters across the country as they watched a team of specialists from the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service tackle a blaze on Rhigos Mountain near Abergavenny.

They had gathered for a wildfire training course, but were redirected to observe an actual fire.

The Rhigos fire broke out on Friday evening but repeated attempts to extinguish the flames have failed.

Mount Rhigos near Abergavenny
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A fire raged on the mountain of Rhigos

Mount Rhigos near Abergavenny
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Repeated attempts to extinguish the flames have failed

In a concerted effort to bring the blaze under control, the department used a helicopter to drop water on the flames and brought in excavators to create fire breaks.

We were taken along forest tracks to a wooded area in front of the advancing fire.

There, the team set fire to grass and trees in a controlled burn to lock in the main fire and prevent it from spreading through another spruce plantation to a nearby wind farm.

Using fire to fight fire is a common tactic in Canada and California, but the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service is one of the few in the UK to use it.

Chris Deacon, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Supervisor
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Chris Deacon, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service Supervisor

Chris Deacon, head of watch for the service, said: “Due to weather conditions, no matter how much water we put on this fire, it will dry out and rekindle.

“So our only method here is controlled combustion.”

Learn more:
Canada on track for worst wildfires on record
New York issues air quality alert – as US skies darken from wildfires in Canada

THE Wennington Forest Fire in east London last summer stunned many pundits with its speed and intensity.

Aerials of the fire at Wennington
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An aerial image of the Wennington fire in east London in July 2022

Nearly 20 homes were destroyed by the massive grass blaze on July 19 – the hottest day on record in the UK when temperatures exceeded 40C – which has seen London firefighters deal with more than 1,000 incidents.

It was one of 24,316 wildfires in England between June and August 2022, four times more than the same time a year earlier.

Firefighters battled the blazes in Wennington on Tuesday
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The Wennington Fire was the hottest day on record in the UK

The Met Office and the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology have predicted that the number of wildfires will increase by 14% by 2030 and 30% by 2050.

Scientists warn that climate change is making heat waves and droughts longer, more intense and more frequent.

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