Heatwave puts Australians on fire alert
04 January 2013, 11:06
Sydney - Australians were in the grip of a record-setting heatwave on Friday with firefighters tackling blazes across the nation and ambulance officers treating those felled by 40° temperatures.
"Take care and stay safe as we face extreme heat around our nation," Prime Minister Julia Gillard tweeted. "Listen to warnings on the high bushfire risk."
The west coast city of Perth has had its hottest week in 80 years with Eucla, 1 429km to the east of Perth, recording an all-time record of 48.2°.
Perth hospitals have treated 20 people for heat-related ailments since Monday.
In Tasmania, the most temperate state, residents near Hobart were ordered to leave homes that were in the path of bushfires fanned by high winds and high-30s heat.
"A plan to wait and see, and leave late is one of the most dangerous options," Tasmania Fire Service chief Mike Brown said in a statement from Hobart, the state capital.
A total fire ban was declared on the island.
The Bureau of Meteorology warned that Hobart would reach 39°, Melbourne 41° and Adelaide a sweltering 44°.
Authorities in Adelaide said they would keep the air-conditioned bus interchange open day and night to provide respite for citizens at risk of heatstroke.
The average maximum temperature across the continent on Wednesday was a 40-year high of 39.2°.
The top temperature ever recorded was 50.7° at Oodnadatta, South Australia, in 1960.
Weather forecasters said it was possible that a new record could be set during the current heatwave.