The Dorset and Wiltshire fire service said it attended 180 fires “in the open” between August 1 and 10. During the same period last year, the service responded to just 34 incidents.
That is an increase of more than 429 per cent, the service said, as it urged people to avoid using barbeques.
Jason Moncrieff, area manager for the service, told the BBC’s Today programme that “it is a massive difference”.
“The first 10 days of August this year versus last year there were 492 per cent more of these types of fires. So that’s field fires, grass fires, heathland fires – all those sorts of fires in the open, a 492 per cent increase this year.”
He also said a large fire on Friday on the Studland peninsula, near Purbeck, could have been avoided.
In a tweet, the fire service said: “We have found evidence of a campfire and BBQ at the seat of the fire on Studland and believe this to be the cause of the fire which started yesterday. Please DO NOT have campfires, bonfires or use barbecues in the countryside.”
We have found evidence of a campfire and BBQ at the seat of the fire on #Studland and believe this to be the cause of the fire which started yesterday.
Please DO NOT have campfires, bonfires or use barbecues in the countryside. #BringAPicnicNotABBQ #Dorset #Wiltshire pic.twitter.com/3gd7bn9rTx
— Dorset&Wiltshire FRS (@DWFireRescue) August 13, 2022
Meanwhile in London temperatures are continuing to climb. At 4pm on Saturday, Kew Gardens reached almost 35C, edging slightly hotter than Friday’s weather.
Grassfires rage across parks in the capital, with around 70 firefighters tackling the latest one in Rammey Marsh in Enfield.
London Fire Brigade has urged people to discard of ciagarettes and glass bottles carefully, while a number of supermarkets have halted the sale of disposable barbeques.
Dry and hot conditions are expected to persist across the country on Sunday, with the capital expected to reach a high of 33C. Some rain could finally arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday.
People are being warned to look out for symptoms of heat exhaustion, including dizziness, headaches and throwing up.
Eight areas in the UK have been placed in drought conditions: Devon and Cornwall, Solent and South Downs, Kent and south London, Hertfordshire and north London, East Anglia, Thames, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, and the east Midlands.
Environment Agency, John Curtin, said: “Mainly it is a signal that this is not a normal summer now, so that water will be an issue and probably will be an issue for months ahead, depending how the winter goes.”