Published: 06:00, 02 June 2020
| Updated: 15:05, 02 June 2020
Kent is set for another day of soaring temperatures today, prompting a warning from the fire service.
This spring has been identified as the sunniest on record, with last month being the driest May since records began 124 years ago.
The UK normally sees an average of 436 hours of sunlight from March to the end of May - this year there has been more than 613 hours of sunny weather.
Today is expected to be the hottest day of the year so far, with the Met Office predicting temperatures of 24C in Maidstone and 25C in Dartford and Gravesend.
Peaking at about noon to 1pm, the mercury will be higher the further west you are in the county.
Such levels, combined with the run of dry days, has prompted Kent Fire and Rescue Service to call for caution.
According to KFRS, the Fire Severity Index is currently 'very high' - meaning fires at this time could develop and spread rapidly and with greater severity.
It notes the increased use of bonfires and barbecues can result in injuries and due to the dry ground "have the potential to spread wildly".
Director of operations at Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Chris Colgan, said: “At this time of year, especially when the weather is warm and dry, the risk of fires starting increases and we need everyone to help reduce that risk.
“There are incidents that are intrinsically linked to summer time, like barbecues and grass fires, but it doesn’t have to be that way if we all take care.
"The smallest careless action can result in a large fire putting life and property at risk - discarding a warm cigarette out the window, having a barbecue too close to a fence or foliage, or throwing a disposable barbecue or ash away before it’s fully cooled, for example.
“If we all work together, we can bring the risk down and keep our communities safe. Our firefighters will always be there and ready to respond, but please, do your bit to prevent fires which can have devastating consequences.
“It’s also important to take care to avoid injuring yourself or sustaining burns, which we see particularly with people using disposable barbecues.
"If you do suffer a minor burn, cool it for at least 20 minutes under cool running water, call 111 for medical advice and cover the burn in loose cling film.
“You can also do your bit in helping to keep loved ones and neighbours safe in the heat, especially the elderly and very young children, by checking on them in line with social distancing guidelines, and giving them tips to stay cool, like staying inside, keeping hydrated and closing curtains to keep their home as cool as possible.”
The easing of the Covid-19 lockdown has also seen an influx of visitors to Kent's beaches and countryside.
Mr Colgan noted a rise in irresponsible parking, and has asked people to ensure fire engines are able to access all roads in order to prevent unnecessary delays.
He said: "Blocked roads can delay our crews when responding to an emergency, as they have to knock on doors and get the vehicles moved.
"Such obstructions can also force us to change our route or tactics, possibly requiring us to lay out longer hoses from further away as an example.
"So it’s really important that people take a look at the space they’ve left once parked, and if it doesn’t look like a fire engine could fit through - please find somewhere else to park, it really could save someone’s life.”