Homes have been destroyed by a bushfire in Victoria amid a heatwave that continues to take its toll on Australia’s southeast.
Up to five homes were destroyed by bushfires at Boolarra North, east of Melbourne, as the state experienced a third consecutive day of extreme temperatures.
Melbourne again endured a top temperature above 43 degrees, marking the first time since records began in 1855 that the city notched up three consecutive days so hot.
The mercury reached 45.1 degrees in Melbourne at 4.27pm (AEDT) on Friday.
Meanwhile, Tasmania recorded its hottest-ever temperature, 42.2 degrees at Scamander in the state’s northeast, while Adelaide reached 43.1 degrees at 2.36pm (1506 AEDT).
Friday’s searing heat kept ambulance staff busy – in Victoria, 60 patients needed ambulances in a 16-hour period after suffering the effects of heat exposure.
In South Australia, some homes and businesses suffered power cuts as the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) strived to maintain services in the face of record demand.
It was the second day in a row that power cuts were required, after supplies to an estimated 95,000 homes in more than 40 suburbs were turned off for short periods on Thursday.
NEMMCO also directed that power be cut to 42,000 Melbourne homes on Friday.
There were fears of further power cuts as a bushfire in Endeavour Hills threatened high-voltage lines that supply two-thirds of Melbourne’s power.
Lifesavers in Victoria for the first time extended their patrols to weeknights to watch over people trying to cool down after work.
“This is an unprecedented response to extraordinary circumstances brought on by extreme weather conditions,” said Life Saving Victoria spokesman Guy Britt.
Animals were also feeling the heat.
The RSPCA issued an alert that birds and possums were becoming heat-stressed.
“Sadly these animals are not coping in this one-in-a-100-year hot spell,” the organisation said in a statement.
Figures released by Melbourne Water showed water consumption soared as residents battled the heat, with Melburnians using an average of 207 litres per day.
The daily water use is well above the government’s target of 155 litres per person per day.