FIRES raged, ice sheets melted, nation after nation declared emergencies and children cried.

As people struggled their way through soaring temperatures amid a new chorus demanding action on climate crisis, it was obvious that something frighteningly extraordinary was happening.

Now, officials are all but agreed. July is on the brink of being declared world’s hottest month on record; ever.

They are simply rechecking their data. Experts are already convinced it is the joint-warmest in our lifetimes but are urgently reviewing statistics likely to reveal that it topped even July 2016, when power outages, wildfires and deaths occurred.

And they are worried. Figures suggest global average temperatures for the month will be “on a par with and possibly marginally higher” than those seen three years ago, the previous warmest July – and warmest month overall – on record.

The assessment shows that July 2019 will have been around 1.2C (2.16F) above pre-industrial levels.

READ MORE: July heatwave ‘would have been up to 3C cooler without climate change’

The provisional assessment is based on data for July 1 - 29 from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the European Centre for MediumRange Weather Forecasts. Final, confirmed data for the month will be published on Monday.

The difference in temperatures between the months of July 2016 and 2019 in the assessment is smaller than the difference typically seen between the various sets of global data which the analysis uses, the experts said.

Alarmingly, all the months of 2019 are so far tracking as among the four warmest on record for their time of year, they said.

The latest figures come after June 2019 was recorded as the hottest June on the record. Record-breaking heatwaves gripped parts of the northern hemisphere in July, with the UK seeing a new high of 38.7C (101.66F) reached in Cambridge on July 25 as the country sweltered.

Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands also saw national records broken as exceptionally high temperatures gripped large parts of central and western Europe last week.

READ MORE: Europe's heatwave moves to Greenland, threatening ice sheet

Parts of the US suffered record-breaking hot conditions too.

Richard Allan, professor of climate science at the University of Reading, said: “Months which break the global temperature record, such as July 2016 and June and July 2019, are now the expectation rather than a surprise since this is entirely consistent with the increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide caused by human activities.

"Just as one swallow does not make a summer, one record month does not tell us much on its own since the fickle nature of weather systems and the slow sloshing about of the ocean can sometimes temporarily warm or cool the planet.

“However, the clustering of recent record hot years and months, the longer-term warming trend and our understanding of the physics of the atmosphere and oceans confirms that our climate is heating up, it’s our fault, and the way to stop this is to reduce and begin removing emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said it was time to act. “These figures represent a stark warning – there can be no doubt that we are in the midst of a climate emergency,” he added. “We cannot carry on with business as usual, urgent action must be taken to transform our economy with a just transition from fossil fuels toward the technologies of the future.

“That’s why we’re proposing a Scottish Green New Deal that will tackle the climate crisis and create hundreds of thousands of jobs, building a better Scotland for everyone.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland climate campaigner Caroline Rance said it added to the body of evidence that showed more urgent action was needed.

“This is the latest in a worrying long-term trend of rising and record-breaking temperatures, with seemingly every year breaking temperature records only recently set.

“Not only was this the warmest July ever, but it included the warmest day ever recorded on the Greenland ice sheet – causing billions of tons of ice to melt into the ocean and raise sea levels.”

READ MORE: Earth Overshoot Day is the earliest in history

She added: “The climate is changing faster than our governments are responding; they have to catch up, and fast. We need to urgently cut climate emissions, end the use of fossil fuels and begin the just transition to a zerocarbon economy.”

Dann Mitchell, associate professor of atmosphere science at the University of Bristol, said the global data showed July was “probably the warmest on record”.

He added: “The warming trend is clear and the scientific evidence robustly points to this being caused by human-induced climate change.

“A 1.2C increase in global temperature, as reported for this July, almost certainly means an even higher increase in temperature over land and cities, which are known to warm faster than the oceans.”

Tens of thousands of people can die prematurely in heatwaves and such incidents were projected to get significantly worse in the future, so “fundamental infrastructure changes” are needed to adapt to climate change.

READ MORE: Why scorched Europeans are heading to Scotland to chill out

Last month, France put citizens on red alert – the highest level – as temperatures maxed out at 41.8C, leading to schools and businesses being closed.

Analysis predicts Edinburgh could reach similar temperatures by 2050. Fire Scotland say they are also dealing with more wildfires on record than ever.