Ireland battles drought and gorse fires on hottest day in four decades

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Ireland has recorded its highest temperature since 1976, it has been announced.

The temperature topped 32 degrees at Shannon Airport, as the country continues into its third day of the heatwave.

Northern Ireland saw similar temperatures and strife as Fermanagh recorded a temperature of 30.4 degrees, while a mile-long gorse fire broke out on the Glenshane Pass in County Londonderry.

Firefighters had been tackling the blaze for over 24 hours on Thursday, in conditions the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service called “one of our most difficult incidents”.

Translink Rail services also felt the heat as they were forced to delay and cancel services across Northern Ireland as rail lines reached over 50 degrees and began to buckle.

The weather has also caused a “critical” issue for water usage.

Irish Water has stated it is “very concerned” about the possibility of having to impose longer-term water restrictions due to the weather.

The company has labelled the situation “critical” and says long-term restrictions will become unavoidable if the warm conditions continue into the autumn with lower-than-normal rainfall.

It was forced to take additional measures to protect supply as water usage continued to increase.

The group’s Drought Management Team has been meeting daily to monitor water supplies and demand around the country.

One hundred water supply schemes are now at risk, with 4,000 homes already impacted.

Customers in Kilkenny, Longford, Athlone, North Galway, Louth and Kerry have already experienced restricted water supply and outages in some cases.

Some areas in Cork, Wicklow, Limerick, Kilkenny, Carlow, Tipperary, Clare, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal, Galway, Roscommon, Laois, Limerick, Kerry, Waterford and Offaly have also been identified as being at risk.

The record level of summer consumption is also depleting raw water reserves needed for the coming months.

Demand for water is increasing while levels in rivers and lakes are dropping, which means less water available to treat and supply to homes and businesses.

Irish Water’s Corporate Affairs Manager Kate Gannon said: “If the drought is prolonged, water restrictions would become unavoidable if demand does not continue to drop. Irish Water are appealing to the public to be continue to be mindful of their water usage.

“Irish Water are also currently assessing all legal options open to us and how they could be implemented.

“The situation remains critical and we are continuing to seek the public’s help.

“Every effort the public make to conserve water will help to minimise risk of supply loss to them and their community.”

Met Eireann have said that the heat is showing no signs of abating with Friday to continue to be dry and very sunny.

Top temperatures are expected to reach between 28 to 31 degrees.

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