FIRE chiefs want garden barbecues stamped out amid fears of another 40C (104F) super-scorcher this week.
They warn of “unprecedented” heat as a UK hosepipe ban looms.
Fire chiefs want barbecues stamped out amid fears of another 40C scorcher this week – pictured the scene of a garden fire in Essex
A woman strolls across a dried-up pond in East London
The scorched fairway and watered green at Dorset golf course
How to save water in your home
But critics said stopping families enjoying home barbies would be “a step too far”.
The heatwave will ramp up again this week, with temperatures set to soar above 35C (95F) by Friday — and it could hit 40C (104F) again.
Forecasters also say there is no significant rainfall on the way, leaving the UK vulnerable to deadly wildfires like those which have swept Australia and California in recent years.
Environment Secretary George Eustice urged water companies to impose hosepipe bans across the whole country, with the possibility of a drought being declared as early as this week.
His call comes after the companies have been accused of failing to halt leaks and of not doing enough to prepare for drought.
After flames ripped through 15 homes and gardens in Chelmsford, Essex, on Saturday night, fire service station manager Dan Wastell said: “We’re dealing with unprecedented temperatures coupled with drought-like conditions. Everything is tinder-dry.
“That’s a considerable fire risk. Fire and rescue services in the UK are strongly recommending that, where possible, people refrain from having bonfires in their gardens.
“This is predominantly based around bonfires and chimineas, but we are also advising for this period where possible, for people to refrain from having barbecues.
“I appreciate it is the time of the year people like to use their gardens and want to make the most of the sun, but they must do so sensibly, and keep the risk of fire low.
“I would urge people to think about whether they need to use their barbecue — for example, they could cook indoors and eat outside.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service area manager Neil Fenwick said: “We’re strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment.”
However, Tory MP Steve Baker disagreed, saying: “There is a risk associated with open fires of course, but sensible adults have been barbecuing safely in their gardens for a long time. Seeking to ban barbecues is a step too far.”
He added: “As long as people take the proper precautions, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t enjoy a barbecue in the sunshine.”
Ben Williams, owner of The BBQ Society restaurant in Gloucester, said the ban was a slap in the face of backyard barbie lovers.
He added: “Everyone should have the right to enjoy a barbecue in their garden, as long as they do it safely.”
Brits will bask in 29C sunshine today, with temperatures rising gradually during the week.
So far, the nation has had just 13 per cent of its expected rainfall for August — most of that in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
England has had just seven per cent of its average, and the bone-dry South of England just two per cent.
‘COULD SEE 40C AGAIN’
Met Office forecaster Jonathan Vautrey said: “We’re in for another very warm and dry week. There will be absolutely no rain in England and Wales.
“Temperatures will rise during the week, with Friday and Saturday likely to be the hottest days. There is a small chance we could see 40C again. We expect this year will be one of the driest, if not the driest, on record.”
He added it will start to cool early next week.
Last month, the UK had its hottest day on record — with 40.3C (104.5F) at Coningsby, Lincs.
The Environment Agency has warned that continued dry conditions are likely to push the country into an official drought.
Most of England is currently in “prolonged dry weather” status amid warnings from some scientists of global temperatures continuing to rise.
The Environment Agency’s National Drought Group is expected to meet this week and decide whether to declare one
Hosepipe bans have already been imposed in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Isle of Man.
More will go into force in Sussex and Kent, and next Friday in Pembrokeshire.
Yesterday, Environment Secretary Mr Eustice said he agreed with the restrictions and added: “I strongly urge other water companies to take responsible action to protect and preserve our water supplies during this exceptionally dry period.”
He said: “There are lots of actions you can take to save water at home and in the garden. Installing a water-saving device in your toilet cistern or checking your household appliances for leaks can save huge amounts.”
Last week, M&S was praised by London Fire Brigade for removing “dangerous” dispos-able barbecues from its stores.
Meanwhile, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs wants to see everyone’s daily water use cut from 145 to 110 litres a day.
The saving is equivalent to six toilet flushes or three dishwasher cycles.
The charred aftermath of burnt trees after a blaze in Chelmsford, Essex
Dan Wastell said: ‘We’re dealing with unprecedented temperatures coupled with drought-like conditions. Everything is tinder-dry’
He added: ‘Fire and rescue services in the UK are strongly recommending that where possible, people refrain from having bonfires in their gardens’