Firefighters tackle A40 verge fire between Cutteslowe and Headington

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A discarded cigarette end was believed to have been the cause of a verge fire on the A40 near Cutteslowe.

Crews from two Oxford fire stations were sent to reports of the blaze in the central reservation between Cutteslowe and Headington roundabout at 5.30pm on Friday.

Firefighters closed part of the road while they put out the fire. Writing on social media, firefighter Chris Edge ‘urged members of the public to be more careful when discarding cigarettes’. It is suspected a cigarette end caused the fire.

The warning comes as temperatures are expected to soar over the weekend and into next week.

The Met Office has predicted highs of 30C tomorrow and 36C on Monday and Tuesday, when a red ‘extreme heat’ weather warning is in place.

For the first time temperatures of 40°C have been forecast in the UK and the first ever Red warning for exceptional heat has been issued.

Find out more in our press release 👇

— Met Office (@metoffice) July 15, 2022

In a joint plea yesterday, representatives from the police, fire brigade and ambulance service asked people to ‘look after themselves’, ‘stay hydrated’ and only call 999 in a genuine emergency.

South Central Ambulance Service’s Paul Jefferies said: “Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which, if not treated quickly, can be very serious. We are asking people to follow NHS advice about changing your behaviour to cope better with the expected high temperatures, and therefore prevent avoidable 999 emergencies.”

SCAS declared a ‘critical incident’ earlier this week as it struggled with a spike in 999 calls, rising covid rates and hotter temperatures leading to more demand for its services. It downgraded that critical incident on Thursday, saying that although the problems had ‘eased’ they had not gone away.

Mr Jefferies said: “We continue to prioritise our response to those patients with life-threatening and serious emergencies but, due to current levels of pressure we are seeing, there will be delays in responding to other patients with less urgent needs who are assessed as requiring an ambulance response.”

Deb Forder of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service warned people against being ‘tempted to take a dip’ in rivers, canals or lakes.

“Even when it feels warm, the water, particularly when it’s deep, will still be cold enough to cause cold water shock, which can incapacitate even the most capable swimmers,” she said.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire’s court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward