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Rain fails to douse heath blazes

Rain has done little to dampen the heathland fires which have been raging in different parts of the UK over the past week.

But it was hoped that further showers forecast for the next 24 hours will help bring some respite to firefighters as thunderstorms were expected to make their way across the whole of the country.

A Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said the rain that fell over Swinley Forest, near Bracknell, on Saturday had made little difference to the fires which have been burning all week.

Crews have been battling round-the-clock in their efforts to extinguish them, with 25 fire engines still at the scene. Police investigating the blaze have bailed two 14-year-old youths arrested on suspicion of arson.

The wet weather also had little effect on burning moorlands in Lancashire, where fires have been raging over a six square-mile area at Belmont for more than a week.

Matt Dobson, a forecaster at PA's weather division Meteogroup, said this could be due to the ground being hot and slow to cool down.

He said most of the country had experienced some rain on Saturday, with only East Anglia, Lincolnshire, Essex and Kent escaping a soaking. Temperatures remained warm and humid, with highs of 24C (75F) recorded in East Anglia.

Mr Dobson said: "There will be heavy rain and thunderstorms across all of the country. It will clear away to the north east by the end of the night.

"The rain will all be cleared away by the morning, that leaves much of the country dry for the rest of the afternoon. It will be sunny but also a bit fresher.

"Wales, south-west England and Northern Ireland will be quite windy with scattered showers."

Press Association

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