Huge fires have broken out at beauty spots across the country as temperatures soared on Saturday.
Firefighters in Scotland, Surrey and Lancashire have been tackling “significant” blazes after warning that scarce rainfall and dry vegetation would provide “all of the ingredients” for wildfires to spread.
Temperatures reached highs of 28C (82F), which are much higher than the average for the time of year, according to the Met Office.
Surrey Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has been tackling a 20-hectare blaze at Thursley Common, which sits on a nature reserve between Thursley and Elstead, since 4.35pm.
⚠️** Thursley Common Incident update ** Members of public at Thursley common are to evacuate and follow instruction from Police Officers on scene. If you have left your vehicle in the car parks. Please ring 101 to inform Police that you are safe & provide them with you car reg ⚠️
— Surrey Fire & Rescue Service (@SurreyFRS) May 30, 2020
Residents from 14 homes nearby were evacuated by Surrey Police, who have also closed off Thursley Road for public safety – a four-mile stretch.
Surrey Police said: “Smoke from the fire is visible for a number of miles and we ask residents to keep their doors and windows closed to prevent breathing difficulties.
“Drivers in the area, including those using the A3, need to be aware that the smoke may affect visibility locally.”
The fire service urged members of the public to leave their cars behind if they parked near the common, and advised local residents to close their windows as the smoke plume “can be seen for miles”.
SFRS said on Twitter: “Members of the public at Thursley Common are to evacuate and follow instruction from police officers on scene.
“If you have left your vehicle in the car parks please ring 101 to inform police that you are safe and provide them with your car registration number.”
Onlooker Sophie Garrett said she was “worried” when she noticed the blaze from 11 miles away while at Pewley Down park in Guildford.
She said: “I was worried initially because I didn’t know where it was, then exasperated when I had a look online and realised that it must be Thursley Common.
“Fires are quite common there in the summer and I don’t think people take enough care when it’s dry like this.”
Thursley Common fire seen from Hankley Common. Once again, idiots not understanding how tinder dry everything is. The Moat car park was rammed earlier and cars parked down the road. pic.twitter.com/Z3Ujs6yKnN
— Lumbdog 🦩🚴♂️⚡ (@ianlumb) May 30, 2020
Another onlooker captured the blaze from Hankley Common, a park nearby, tweeting: “Thursley Common fire seen from Hankley Common.
“Once again, idiots not understanding how tinder dry everything is.
“The Moat car park was rammed earlier and cars parked down the road.”
A sign at Thursley Common warns members of the public there is a “high” risk of fire, and urges people not to light flames and to dispose of rubbish carefully.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) crews have also been tackling a wildfire on the Isle of Skye.
SFRS were alerted to the blaze at Kyleakin Woods, at 12.38pm on Saturday.
This comes after SFRS warned that the weekend’s high temperatures could see a rise in incidents.
On Friday, Area Commander Bruce Farquharson said: “We have had very little rain over the past two months, and a large volume of dead, bone-dry vegetation remains left over from last year – which essentially acts as a fuel for fire.
“As a result, there are currently vast areas of countryside all over the country that is tinder dry and vulnerable, and has all of the ingredients for fire to take hold and spread.”
Meanwhile, crews from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Manchester Fire Service have been using eight fire engines to tackle a huge blaze on moorland nearby Bolton Road in Darwen.
Darwen moor right now pic.twitter.com/hVD9u9Hlu5
— CFO Justin Johnston (@Lancs_FireDCFO) May 30, 2020
Lancashire fire crews said: “The fire front is covering an area approximately 300 yards by 200 yards.
“Firefighters are currently using aqua packs and beaters to bring the fire under control.”