Britons take to the beach with the country set to bask in 35C heat today and tomorrow

Britons have headed to the beach as 35C temperatures and drought conditions are predicted for the southern half of the UK this weekend, while thunderstorms and potential floods on Monday are forecast to bring an end to the warm weather.

Droughts have already been declared in eight areas of southern and central England, and several grasslands have caught alight in these zones following the driest summer in half a century.

The 13910-1ade-11ed-9bfc-3fa7ec11bac4" class="class">Met Office has issued an amber heat warning covering most of England and Wales, where temperatures may reach up to 35C today and Sunday.

The mercury will hit around the 30C mark further north in England, while much of Scotland and Northern Ireland can expect temperatures in the mid-twenties.

Heat-related illnesses including sunburn and heat exhaustion are ‘likely’ among the general population, and delays to public transport are ‘possible’.

Met Office meteorologist Dan Stroud said that the weather will continue to be dry across the south.

‘For the rest of the weekend, across the south, there will be a continuation of the very dry and hot conditions,’ he said.

‘We’re looking at temperatures, for the remainder of Saturday, of up to 34C or 35C across the south, feeling a little bit fresher across the north, but temperatures up there still well above where they should be for the time of year.

‘As we move into, into Sunday, a slight change with low pressure starting to arrive from the south.

‘There is an increasing risk of some isolated showers across Devon and Cornwall, very early on Sunday.

‘Most places still generally dry and fine, with some strong August sunshine, with those temperatures rising rapidly during the course of Sunday morning and into the afternoon.’

He added that there was still a risk of more wildfires.

‘It has been extremely dry for an extended period and the ground and vegetation has been baked dry, so there is a significant risk.’

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.

Jersey Water is the latest company to urge residents not to use hosepipes and sprinklers after the island, some 85 miles south of the English coast, reached its second ‘absolute drought’ of 2022 after more than 15 days without rain on August 5.

According to the firm, the demand for water during the week reached around 22 million litres of water per day, around 2.5 million more compared to the same period last year. 

Let to right: Saorla Boyle, Aoife Hanly and Aine Cronin make the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland on Saturday amid another scorching heatwave across the UK

The UK's heatwave is set to continue with temperatures of up to 35C (95F) predicted for this weekend (pictured: people enjoying the morning sun on Bournemouth beach)

The UK’s heatwave is set to continue with temperatures of up to 35C (95F) predicted for this weekend (pictured: people enjoying the morning sun on Bournemouth beach)

A woman cools off with an outdoor shower at Bournemouth Beach this morning, where it is predicted to reach 29C

A woman cools off with an outdoor shower at Bournemouth Beach this morning, where it is predicted to reach 29C

People making the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland

People making the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland

Crowds of people made the trip to the seaside today to enjoy the warm weather

Crowds of people made the trip to the seaside today to enjoy the warm weather

The southern half of the UK has been suffering drought conditions this weekend, while the northern half braces for thunderstorms on Sunday

The southern half of the UK has been suffering drought conditions this weekend, while the northern half braces for thunderstorms on Sunday

Londoners get out their deck chairs as they bask in the sun amid searing temperatures on Saturday

Londoners get out their deck chairs as they bask in the sun amid searing temperatures on Saturday

Bournemouth Beach was lined with parasols as Brits looked to relax in the shade

Bournemouth Beach was lined with parasols as Brits looked to relax in the shade 

People play in the water at Chalkwell beach in Southend during the extreme hot weather on Saturday

People play in the water at Chalkwell beach in Southend during the extreme hot weather on Saturday 

People sunbathe on parched grass Eastville Park, Bristol, on Saturday, after the Met Office issued an amber warning for extreme heat covering four days from Thursday to Sunday

People sunbathe on parched grass Eastville Park, Bristol, on Saturday, after the Met Office issued an amber warning for extreme heat covering four days from Thursday to Sunday

Two women sit in on the promenade on Chalkwell beach while donning protective sun hats during the extreme hot weather on Saturday

Two women sit in on the promenade on Chalkwell beach while donning protective sun hats during the extreme hot weather on Saturday 

Tens-of-thousands of festival-goers are having endure the heat at this year's Boomtown Fair, held in Hampshire

Tens-of-thousands of festival-goers are having endure the heat at this year’s Boomtown Fair, held in Hampshire

Temperatures have been up to 34C today at Boomtown Fair (pictured people attempting to stay cool and hydrated at the festival)

Temperatures have been up to 34C today at Boomtown Fair (pictured people attempting to stay cool and hydrated at the festival)

A woman walks in the heat past the goalposts on the scorched, dry grass on Hackney Marshes in London

A woman walks in the heat past the goalposts on the scorched, dry grass on Hackney Marshes in London

The weather further up north in the UK is dramatically different, with warnings of thunderstorms and floods in the coming days (pictured: Roker Beach, Sunderland)

The weather further up north in the UK is dramatically different, with warnings of thunderstorms and floods in the coming days (pictured: Roker Beach, Sunderland)

A family enjoying a paddleboard on the sea by Sunderland as the beach is enveloped in fog

A family enjoying a paddleboard on the sea by Sunderland as the beach is enveloped in fog

The temperature towards the top of the UK is closer to 20C (pictured: a foggy coast in Sunderland)

The temperature towards the top of the UK is closer to 20C (pictured: a foggy coast in Sunderland)

People making the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland

People making the most of the weather at Helens Bay Beach in Northern Ireland

A woman tops up her tan while asleep on Bournemouth Beach today

A woman tops up her tan while asleep on Bournemouth Beach today

Harvey Bradshaw, chair of the National Drought Group, told Radio 4's Today programme that people are suffering and that there is 'real stress'. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

Harvey Bradshaw, chair of the National Drought Group, told Radio 4’s Today programme that people are suffering and that there is ‘real stress’. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

He said that over the last 12 months nearly every month we have had below average rainfall, low levels or exceptionally low levels. Pictured: A man on a zipline at Bournemouth Beach

He said that over the last 12 months nearly every month we have had below average rainfall, low levels or exceptionally low levels. Pictured: A man on a zipline at Bournemouth Beach

General views at this year's Boomtown Fair, on the Matterley Estate, Ovington, Hampshire

General views at this year’s Boomtown Fair, on the Matterley Estate, Ovington, Hampshire

A family of festival-goers from Cumbria attempt to stay cool during a heatwave at this year's Boomtown Fair

A family of festival-goers from Cumbria attempt to stay cool during a heatwave at this year’s Boomtown Fair

Labour has called on the Government to summon a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee to ensure water supplies are protected amid the ongoing drought. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

Labour has called on the Government to summon a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee to ensure water supplies are protected amid the ongoing drought. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

Deputy leader Angela Rayner criticized the Government saying their inaction is creating a dust 'bowl Britain' and that there needs to be a plan to protect the water system. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

Deputy leader Angela Rayner criticized the Government saying their inaction is creating a dust ‘bowl Britain’ and that there needs to be a plan to protect the water system. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

Pre-season rugby games are being forced to be cancelled because the surfaces are unplayable after weeks without rain. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach

Pre-season rugby games are being forced to be cancelled because the surfaces are unplayable after weeks without rain. Pictured: Bournemouth Beach 

Harvey Bradshaw, chair of the National Drought Group, told Radio 4’s Today programme that people are suffering and that there is ‘real stress’.

He said that over the last 12 months nearly every month we have had below average rainfall, low levels or exceptionally low levels. 

Labour has called on the Government to summon a meeting of the Cobra civil contingencies committee to ensure water supplies are protected amid the ongoing drought.

Deputy leader Angela Rayner criticized the Government saying their inaction is creating a dust ‘bowl Britain’ and that there needs to be a plan to protect the water system.

Pre-season rugby games are being forced to be cancelled because the surfaces are unplayable after weeks without rain.

The pitches have burned out and crusted over, making them rock hard and bringing an element of risk as it increases the chances of players suffering injuries.

The Football Supporters’ Association urged clubs change their rules to helps of fans on a scorching afternoon in the stands.

‘Clubs should be allowing fans to take water bottles and sun cream through the turnstiles,’ the FSA says on Twitter. ‘Worth checking with your club to see if they are providing extra water or refilling stations.’

Meanwhile summer will come to an abrupt end on Monday, as a lower-level yellow warning for thunderstorms is in for the entirety of the UK.

As much as 20mm to 30mm of rainfall could be seen in an hour, meaning there is a ‘small chance’ of flooding in and the potential for power cuts.

However the rainfall may not help alleviate drought conditions as the parched ground doesn’t easily absorb water, instead it tends to run off the surface. 

This means the rainfall is transported quickly into streams and rivers and increases the chance of a flash flood.

An amber heat warning covering most of England and Wales has been issued by the Met Office

An amber heat warning covering most of England and Wales has been issued by the Met Office

Heat-related illnesses including sunburn and heat exhaustion are 'likely' for people in the south of UK while flooding and thunderstorms are predicted for Scotland (pictured: Bournemouth Beach this morning)

Heat-related illnesses including sunburn and heat exhaustion are ‘likely’ for people in the south of UK while flooding and thunderstorms are predicted for Scotland (pictured: Bournemouth Beach this morning)

A man and a woman enjoy paddle boarding at Bournemouth Beach

A man and a woman enjoy paddle boarding at Bournemouth Beach

A woman sunbathing on the dried grass on Wimbledon Common in the sweltering heat

A woman sunbathing on the dried grass on Wimbledon Common in the sweltering heat

The Met Office has issued an amber extreme heat warning across England and Wales lasting for the rest of the week when temperatures are expected to rise above 30C

The Met Office has issued an amber extreme heat warning across England and Wales lasting for the rest of the week when temperatures are expected to rise above 30C

The driest spell in England for 46 years continues and a drought has been officially declared by the Environment Agency

The driest spell in England for 46 years continues and a drought has been officially declared by the Environment Agency

A few pub drinkers sitting outside a pub on the parched grass on Wimbledon Common

A few pub drinkers sitting outside a pub on the parched grass on Wimbledon Common

People lie on parched grass inside Hyde Park on August 13 in London

People lie on parched grass inside Hyde Park on August 13 in London

After a prolonged period of dry weather, some parts of the southern UK are facing drought conditions, prompting hosepipe bans and other water-conservation measures. Pictured: St James's Park

After a prolonged period of dry weather, some parts of the southern UK are facing drought conditions, prompting hosepipe bans and other water-conservation measures. Pictured: St James’s Park

Several grasslands in the UK have caught alight following the driest summer in half a century (pictured: Large fire tears through Creswell village in Derbyshire)

Several grasslands in the UK have caught alight following the driest summer in half a century (pictured: Large fire tears through Creswell village in Derbyshire)

Dry grass covers a parched Primrose Hill following official droughts being declared in parts of England

Dry grass covers a parched Primrose Hill following official droughts being declared in parts of England

WEST YORKSHIRE: Low water levels at Baitings Reservoir in Ripponden reveal an ancient pack horse bridge as drought conditions continue in the heatwave

WEST YORKSHIRE: Low water levels at Baitings Reservoir in Ripponden reveal an ancient pack horse bridge as drought conditions continue in the heatwave

Data collected from more than 18 water companies, including Thames Water, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Welsh Water, showed that sites ranging from Oxfordshire and London, to Warwickshire, had no water or poor pressure

Data collected from more than 18 water companies, including Thames Water, Severn Trent Water, United Utilities and Welsh Water, showed that sites ranging from Oxfordshire and London, to Warwickshire, had no water or poor pressure

A woman jogging along Bournemouth Beach

Two joggers by Bournemouth Beach this morning

Joggers were out early this morning along Bournemouth Beach to avoid the warm weather predicted for later today

On Friday families appeared to have pitched up tents and camped overnight at the sun spot on the south coast

On Friday families appeared to have pitched up tents and camped overnight at the sun spot on the south coast 

A number of tents could be seen on the sand early yesterday morning, before the beach filled up with sun worshippers

A number of tents could be seen on the sand early yesterday morning, before the beach filled up with sun worshippers 

Baylis Park Pond in Slough has dried out leaving ducks and wildlife displaced (pictured)

Baylis Park Pond in Slough has dried out leaving ducks and wildlife displaced (pictured)

Weather map for Saturday

Weather map for Sunday

Met Office weather predictions for today and tomorrow show weather warnings for extreme heat and thunderstorms

Weather map for Monday

Weather map for Tuesday

Almost all of UK is at risk of thunderstorm on Monday and large parts of England and Wales on Tuesday

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Early risers were pictured getting their exercise done well before the heat soared, and beachgoers planning to beat the rush started piling onto Bournemouth’s famous seascape early on in the morning.

While sunseekers were seen pitching up their tents overnight in anticipation of scorching temperatures that will make the UK hotter than parts of the Caribbean. 

The overnight campers risked the wrath of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council – and a £1,000 fine – by ignoring rules and setting up their tents the evening before so they could grab the best spots.

Experts fear heatwave has sparked ‘killer’ Asian hornets into a frenzy of lust 

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A record number of ‘killer’ Asian hornets’ nests have been found this week on Jersey.

They pack enough venom to kill people, and they are loving the hot weather.

It sends them on an orgy of mating and nest-building.

The highest number of nests ever recorded in a year have already been found on Jersey this summer, said Alastair Christie, 56, who leads the team hunting the invaders.

He said the 84th nest was discovered on Sunday, breaking the previous record of 83 in 2019.

In a grim warning, he said anyone working outdoors, specially when pruning trees and bushes, should check before cutting vegetation.

He issued the warning after a farmer hit an unseen nest with a mower and was stung several times.

‘Almost every day we are finding two or three nests.

‘Some of the beekeepers have said their hives are being attacked.’

He said the record number was due to the ‘perfect weather’ which had made it easier for the queen hornets to build their smaller primary nests in the springtime.

Stings from Asian hornets have killed at least five people in France.

The venom is so powerful, it causes people to go into anaphylactic shock and they can die within minutes of being attacked unless they receive urgent medical treatment.

They’re far more dangerous than our native hornet, which wildlife experts praise for being a gardener’s friend because they prey on pests.

Just one Asian hornet can wreak terrible damage – it can hunt down and eat fifty honey bees every day.

Their mere presence can deter terrified bees from flying out of their hives for honey-making, costing beekeepers a fortune.

Meanwhile, the hot and dry weather meant fire crews in Derbyshire were tackling a huge blaze well into Friday night, with four fire engines at the scene in Creswell, Worksop.

Footage shared online showed flames filling the horizon and large plumes of smoke in the sky above a residential area.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service also fought embankment blazes beside a railway in Matlock, and near Junction 26 of the M1.

Oli Mousley, 19, a law student who lives in the village, said there was also ‘ash floating around’ in the residential area nearby and a ‘strong smell of burning’. 

The service said it was ‘planning for a busy weekend’ of further fires, and echoing the pleas of fire services across the nation, asked people to refrain from starting garden bonfires or using portable barbecues.

Some 35 firefighters were also deployed to tackle a two-hectare blaze at the Leyton Flats wildlife reserve in Waltham Forest, east London.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) crews have been captured beating back the flames at the scene of the blaze at the Leyton Flats wildlife reserve in east London.

The service has also warned of a blaze in Merton, in the south east of the capital, where four engines and about 25 firefighters were deployed.

South west of London, fire crews worked overnight to tackle a blaze involving 800 tonnes of straw which had destroyed a farmer’s field in Overton, near Basingstoke.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service also said a woodland area caught alight in Beaulieu, in the New Forest National Park, caused by a campfire or barbecue.

Elsewhere, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is currently battling a large wildfire in the town of Camborne.

At just after 3pm, the service said eight fire appliances were trying to control the blaze on Kerrier Way.

At 4.20pm, it asked the public to stay away from the scene, which is close to a residential area, due to the potential of live electric wires falling, and to allow further fire engine to reach the fire.

An LFB spokesperson has warned that with more high temperatures on the way, people must take care to dispose of rubbish, particularly glass.

They said: ‘There are still high temperatures forecast, especially for the coming days, and the ground remains dry.

‘We’re urging people to take extra care and help us prevent fires on open land this summer.

‘Make sure rubbish, especially glass, is safely thrown away and cigarettes are always properly disposed of.

‘Grass will be tinder dry after periods of hot weather, so please don’t have barbecues in parks and public spaces.’

The service said there were no ongoing fires in the capital at 9pm on Friday.

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. 

‘We’ve lost a week’s worth of rain and it’ll take weeks of rain, we’ll need probably average or slightly above average rainfall this autumn into this winter for us to not be in a drought next year.’

Precipitation in the north may trigger floods if the rainfall is of sufficient intensity to result in high-velocity flows.

Flash flooding could occur as slow-moving thunderstorms deposit rain on to baked, hardened surfaces with water running off into potential downstream deluges rather than soaking into the ground.

The announcement that weeks worth of rain are required 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.

‘All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe,’ Water Minister Steve Double said in a statement.

‘We are better prepared than ever before for periods of dry weather, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, including impacts on farmers and the environment, and take further action as needed.’

A shoppers next to bottled drinking water in Sainsbury's supermarket in London as the heatwave continues and the National Drought Group declared an official drought across much of England

A shoppers next to bottled drinking water in Sainsbury’s supermarket in London as the heatwave continues and the National Drought Group declared an official drought across much of England

MANCHESTER: The low supplies of water at the Tesco superstore in Stalybridge

MANCHESTER: The low supplies of water at the Tesco superstore in Stalybridge

The National Drought Group - made up of Government and agency officials, water companies and other groups such as the National Farmers' Union (NFU) - is set to meet today to discuss the prolonged dry weather

The National Drought Group – made up of Government and agency officials, water companies and other groups such as the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) – is set to meet today to discuss the prolonged dry weather

Aldi has put up posters limiting customers to between three and five bottles of drinking water each amid panic buying.

Aldi has put up posters limiting customers to between three and five bottles of drinking water each amid panic buying.

LONDON: Aldi put up posters in one store limiting customers to between three and five bottles of drinking water each amid panic buying. The store later took down the notices.

A supermarket rationed sales of bottled water yesterday as shoppers stocked up in the heat.

An Aldi in Harringay, north London, put signs on shelves telling customers they could only buy five single bottles and three multipacks. It read: ‘Limits are necessary for supporting you and your neighbours to find the products you need.’

Aldi said it was not imposing a national limit on the sale of bottled water. Meanwhile, Asda yesterday became the latest retailer to take disposable barbecues off their shelves to reduce the risk of wildfires.

The temporary ban followed similar moves by Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Co-op, Morrisons, Ocado and Tesco. Waitrose and Aldi have stopped selling the barbecues permanently.

Campaigners said a complete halt to sales was necessary to stop the fire risk. An Asda spokesman said: ‘In light of the ongoing heatwave and dry conditions, we’ve now made the decision to temporarily pause the sale of disposable barbecues across the UK.’

Toby Tyler, whose son William, 11, required a skin graft after treading on sand heated up by a disposable barbecue, said retailers needed to step up their responsibilities.

The teacher, from Stockport, said: ‘They need to recognise the human injury and waste elements of this problem.’ 

People walking through the parched sunburnt grass on Wimbledon Common this morning

People walking through the parched sunburnt grass on Wimbledon Common this morning

Britons have headed to the beaches this morning with temperatures set to soar to 35C

Britons have headed to the beaches this morning with temperatures set to soar to 35C

Empty picnic tables sit in the scorching sun in Wanstead Park in north-east London

Empty picnic tables sit in the scorching sun in Wanstead Park in north-east London

The Met Office has revealed how the ‘Azores High’ pressure system is pushing up from the south, bringing scorching temperatures to the UK, France and the Iberian peninsula. 

The Azores High is a large centre of high atmospheric pressure typically found south of the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. 

It is often referred to as the ‘gatekeeper of precipitation’, and is formed by dry air descending in the subtropics. 

The Azores High is a large subtropical semi-permanent centre of high atmospheric pressure typically found south of the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Formed by dry air descending in the subtropics, the Azores High, which usually sits off Spain, has grown larger and is being pushed northwards.

This has brought scorching temperatures to the UK, France and the Iberian peninsula.

The size and intensity of the Azores high shifts year on year, driving variations in rainfall levels over the continent.

A Met Office spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Areas of high and low pressures do move around the globe, so the Azores High does occasionally extend across the UK throughout the year.

‘The high usually doesn’t stay for too long but on this occasion it has remained close by throughout the summer.’

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The Azores High usually sits to the south but is currently directly over the UK and Ireland, stretching from the Azores Islands

Using climate models, scientists simulated global weather over the past 1,200 years and found that the number of large Azores Highs is extremely unusual

Using climate models, scientists simulated global weather over the past 1,200 years and found that the number of large Azores Highs is extremely unusual

‘It’s like an apocalypse’: France forced to call in hundreds of fire fighters from six other countries as ‘monster’ blaze spreads amid drought ravaging crops, melting glaciers and drying up rivers across Europe 

By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline 

France has been forced to call in reinforcements from across Europe to help battle a huge wildfire that has been burning in the south of the country for more than a month. 

Hundreds of firefighters from Germany, Poland, Romania and Italy are heading to Gironde, near Bordeaux, to help tackle a blaze that began burning in early July as Europe’s record-breaking summer heatwave got underway before reigniting several days ago – forcing 10,000 people from their homes and burning 7,000 hectares of pine forest.

Water-bombing planes are also being sent from Greece and Sweden to help extinguish the flames, as locals describe biblical scenes. Valentine Dupy, who lives in the village of Belin-Beliet, said the region is ‘like an apocalypse. Smoke everywhere … and planes throwing orange powder onto the fire.’ 

Europe is sweltering through a record-breaking summer of heatwaves and drought that has parched the continent and turned forests tinder-dry. In Switzerland, a glacial pass that has been covered by ice for the last 2,000 years is set to be ice-free by the end of the week because it has all melted.

Firefighters said they had managed to save her village, transformed into a ghost town after police told residents to evacuate as the flames approached. But the blaze reached the outskirts, leaving wrecked houses and charred tractors in its wake.

‘We’ve been lucky. Our houses were saved. But you see the catastrophe all over there. Some houses could not be saved,’ said resident Gaetan, pointing to houses burnt to the ground.

Support was on its way from across Europe, with 361 firefighters, as well as trucks and waterbombing aircrafts, expected to back up the 1,100 French firefighters already on the ground.

‘We are still in the phase of (trying to) confine the fire, direct it where we want it, where there is less vegetation, where our vehicles can best position themselves … so we can eventually fix it, control it and extinguish it,’ said Matthieu Jomain, a spokesperson for the Gironde firefighers.

More than 60,000 hectares (230 square miles) have gone up in flames so far in France this year, six times the full-year average for 2006-2021, data from the European Forest Fire Information System shows.

A water-bombing plane drops flame retardant chemicals on to trees in the Gironde region of France, where fire crews are struggling to extinguish a blaze that has been burning for more than a month

A water-bombing plane drops flame retardant chemicals on to trees in the Gironde region of France, where fire crews are struggling to extinguish a blaze that has been burning for more than a month

Flames rip through tinder-dry woodland in Gironde, in the south of France, where a record-breaking summer of heatwaves and drought has turned pine forests into firewood

Flames rip through tinder-dry woodland in Gironde, in the south of France, where a record-breaking summer of heatwaves and drought has turned pine forests into firewood

Fire crews had managed to dampen down the Gironde fire around the end of July, when Europe's last major heatwave ended, but say it was never fully extinguished and has now re-ignited as the hot weather returns

Fire crews had managed to dampen down the Gironde fire around the end of July, when Europe’s last major heatwave ended, but say it was never fully extinguished and has now re-ignited as the hot weather returns

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French authorities said temperatures in the Gironde region would reach 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) on Thursday and stay high until Saturday.

Firefighters warned of an ‘explosive cocktail’ of weather conditions, with wind and the tinder-box conditions helping fan the flames.

The Gironde was hit by big wildfires in July that destroyed more than 20,000 hectares of forest and temporarily forced almost 40,000 people from their homes.

Hostens mayor Jean-Louis Dartiailh described the past weeks as a disaster. ‘The area is totally disfigured. We’re heartbroken, we’re exhausted,’ he told Radio Classique. ‘(This fire) is the final straw.’

Europe is suffering under a severe heat wave and drought that has produced tragic consequences for farmers and ecosystems already under threat from climate change and pollution.

In France, which is enduring its worst drought on record, flames raged through pine forests overnight, illuminating the sky with an intense orange light in the Gironde region, which was already ravaged by flames last month, and in neighboring Landes. More than 68 square kilometers (26 square miles) have burned since Tuesday.

Along the Oder River, which flows from Czechia north into the Baltic Sea, volunteers have been collecting dead fish that have washed ashore in Poland and Germany.

Piotr Nieznanski, the conservation policy director at WWF Poland, said it appears that a toxic chemical was released into the water by an industry and the low water levels caused by the drought has made conditions far more dangerous for the fish.

‘A tragic event is happening along the Oder River, an international river, and there is no transparent information about what is going on,’ he said, calling on government authorities to investigate.

People living along the river have been warned not to swim in the water or even touch it.

Firefighters embrace as they work to contain a fire in Saint-Magne, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France

Firefighters embrace as they work to contain a fire in Saint-Magne, as wildfires continue to spread in the Gironde region of southwestern France

Flames consume woodland in Gironde, near Bordeaux, where a wildfire has been burning since early July and shows no signs of stopping as Europe's record-breaking summer of heat and drought continues

Flames consume woodland in Gironde, near Bordeaux, where a wildfire has been burning since early July and shows no signs of stopping as Europe’s record-breaking summer of heat and drought continues

A burned-out car is visible in front of a torched house in the village of Belin-Beliet, in the south of France, which was hit by wildfires that have burned through thousands of hectares of forest

A burned-out car is visible in front of a torched house in the village of Belin-Beliet, in the south of France, which was hit by wildfires that have burned through thousands of hectares of forest

A firefighting truck that had been helping to tackle blazes in the south of France ended up becoming a victim of them, as crews struggle to get the inferno under control

A firefighting truck that had been helping to tackle blazes in the south of France ended up becoming a victim of them, as crews struggle to get the inferno under control

A dead fish lies on the bank of Oder River on the German-Polish border, in Brieskow-Finkenheerd, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

A dead fish lies on the bank of Oder River on the German-Polish border, in Brieskow-Finkenheerd, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany

Poland’s state water management body said the drought and high temperatures can cause even small amounts of pollution to lead to an ecological disaster but it has not identified the source of the pollution.

In northern Serbia, the dry bed of the Conopljankso reservoir is now littered with dead fish that were unable to survive the drought.

The water level along Germany’s Rhine River was at risk of falling so low that it could become difficult to transport goods – including critical energy items like coal and gasoline.

In Italy, which is experiencing its worst drought in seven decades, the parched Po River has already caused billions of euros in losses to farmers who normally rely on Italy’s longest river to irrigate their fields and rice paddies.

‘I am young and I do not remember anything like this, but even the elderly in my village or the other villages around here have never seen anything like this, never ever,’ said Antonio Cestari, a 35-year-old farmer in Ficarolo who says he expects to produce only half his usual crops of corn, wheat and soy because his river-fed wells have such low water levels.

The Po runs 652 kilometers (405 miles) from the northwestern city of Turin to Venice. It has dozens of tributary rivers but northern Italy hasn’t seen rainfall for months and this year’s snowfall was down by 70%. The drying up of the Po is also jeopardizing drinking water in Italy’s densely populated and highly industrialized districts.

Over in Portugal, the Serra da Estrela national park was also being ravaged by a wildfire. Some 1,500 firefighters, 476 vehicles and 12 aircraft were deployed to fight it but the wind-driven blaze 250 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of Lisbon was very hard to reach, with inaccessible peaks almost 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) high and deep ravines. The fire has charred 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of woodland.

In Britain, where temperatures hit a record 40.3 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in July, the weather office has issued a new warning for ‘extreme heat’ from Thursday through Sunday, with temperatures forecast to reach 36 C (96.8 F).

It has been one of the driest summers on record in southern Britain, and the Met Office weather service said there is an ‘exceptional risk’ of wildfires over the next few days.

London Fire Brigade said its control room had dealt with 340 grass, garbage and open-land fires during the first week of August, eight times the number from last year. Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Smith said ‘the grass in London is tinderbox dry and the smallest of sparks can start a blaze which could cause devastation.’

In Switzerland, a drought and high temperatures have endangered fish populations and authorities have begun moving fish out of some creeks that were running dry.

In Hausen, in the canton of Zurich, officials caught hundreds of fish, many of them brown trout, in the almost dried-up Heischerbach, Juchbach and Muehlebach creeks this week by anesthetizing them with electric shocks and then immediately placing them in a water tank enriched with oxygen, local media reported. Later, the fish were taken to creeks that still carry enough water.

Despite all the harm caused by the extreme weather, Swiss authorities see one morbid upside: they believe there’s hope of finding some people who went missing in the mountains in the last few years because their bodies are being released as glaciers melt.

In the Swiss canton of Valais, melting glaciers have recently revealed parts of a crashed airplane and, at separate locations, at least two skeletons. The bodies have not yet been identified, news website 20Minuten reported Thursday.

Spanish state television showed dozens of trucks heading to France having to turn around and stay in Spain because wildfires had forced authorities to close some border crossings. TVE reported that truckers, many carrying perishable goods, were looking for ways to cross the border because the parking areas around the Irun crossing were full.

France this week is in its fourth heat wave of the year as it faces what the government describes as the country’s worst drought on record. Temperatures were expected to reach 40 C (104 F) on Thursday.