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Northern Ireland to bask in glorious sunshine as wildfire warnings issued

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A dog walker enjoys the Spring sunshine in Wallace Park, Lisburn on Tuesday. The park was reopened after being closed because of the Coronavirus restrictions. Picture by Stephen Davison.

A dog walker enjoys the Spring sunshine in Wallace Park, Lisburn on Tuesday. The park was reopened after being closed because of the Coronavirus restrictions. Picture by Stephen Davison.

A dog walker enjoys the Spring sunshine in Wallace Park, Lisburn on Tuesday. The park was reopened after being closed because of the Coronavirus restrictions. Picture by Stephen Davison.

The sunny and warm weather is set to continue across Northern Ireland this week with temperatures steadily on the rise.

Sweltering heat is expected to hit the UK at the end of the week as the hottest April in almost a decade is set to continue.

There will be a high of 16 degrees on Wednesday rising to 17 on Thursday before hitting 20 degrees on Friday. However, come the weekend, those temperatures will begin to drop.

A sunny Thursday and Friday around the UK will see the temperature reach as high as 24 degrees as London will be hotter than Lanzarote and Corfu.

With the dry weather set to stay, the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and the NI Fire Service (NIFRS), have asked farmers and the public for their help to avoid wildfires in the countryside.

The hot and dry conditions has left rural areas vulnerable to fires caused by burning vegetation or waste, and littering or dumping waste materials.

Two large gorse blazes outside Omagh last week were a direct result of rubbish dumped on the land and being set alight, according to fire service.

Agriculture and Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “As we work our way through the Covid-19 crisis, no one should start a fire in the countryside and place further strain on our emergency services. A number of significant wildfire incidents have occurred over recent weeks which have threatened property and destroyed valuable habitats.

It is important that we all play our part in protecting our communities and vulnerable citizens during this national emergency. Edwin Poots

“Wildfires are rarely natural. They are almost always started either deliberately, or by reckless burning or disposal of flammable vegetation or waste material. Waste or litter might also contain glass, which can easily start a fire on a sunny day.”

Minister Poots added: “It is important that we all play our part in protecting our communities and vulnerable citizens during this national emergency, to ensure that we do not add unnecessary pressures to the emergency services.

“I’m urging the public to take extreme caution because wildfires could result in tragedy for people caught in the line of a fire – don’t burn waste or vegetation and don’t fly-tip or drop litter.”

Setting of wildfires is a criminal offence.

Michael Graham, chief fire and rescue officer (Interim) said dealing with wildfires unnecessarily diverted resources from where they were needed.

"Thanks to our planning, the changes we have made to how we deliver our service, and the hard work of our people, we are well placed to continue protecting our community during the Covid-19 pandemic, however it is important that the public work with us to not add any additional pressure on the emergency services during this time.

“We would therefore appeal to farmers to support us by not carrying out controlled burning and remind the public to exercise common sense in the countryside.”

Oli Claydon from the Met Office explained there will be plenty of sunshine in Northern Ireland this week but cloud will develop on Saturday before a risk of showers on Sunday.

“In terms of temperatures, they will build through the week,” he added.

“It will take a little bit of a dip as we move into the weekend with a greater amount of cloud moving in so there’ll be temperatures with a high of 17 on Saturday and 15 on Sunday.”

Despite the sunny conditions, many beaches and open spaces will be largely empty as people have been urged to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Forecasters said the expected heatwave across the UK is due to a large area of high pressure to the north of England making the days clear and bright.

Temperatures could be well above the average high of 12 degrees in April for the UK and the hottest the UK has been in this month since 2011.

Met Office forecaster Greg Dewhurst said: “There will be a bit of fog to start the day on Thursday, but that will clear up pretty quickly and there will be bright, warm sunshine across the whole UK. This will be the same for Friday, which could be hotter in some areas.

“This is because of a large area of high pressure that is hanging north of the UK. It also helps that there has been consecutive days of clear, hot days that have kept it going.”

Belfast Telegraph