Australia — VICTORIANS have sweltered through the hottest November day in more than a century with the temperature soaring above 45C in some parts.
Many rushed to beaches in a bid to cool down. But it wasn’t all fun in the sun, with grass fires breaking out in Victoria’s northwest.
In Melbourne, the mercury crept towards 40C, with a high of 39.2C recorded at 6pm.
The state’s hotspot was Mildura, where a maximum of 45.5C was recorded. That beat the state’s previous November record of 45C, which dated back to 1905 in Mildura.
The biggest grass fire was near Baringhup, close to Maryborough, which spread over 200 hectares after starting about 3pm (AEDT) before being contained.
The Country Fire Authority also dealt with a blaze at Lillicur, 8km west of Talbot, which burned 20 hectares of grass and bush.
There were also grass fires in Edenhope, one near Avenel which caused smoke that disrupted traffic on the Hume Freeway, a plantation fire at Dartmoor and a four-hectare fire at Murtoa.
A CFA spokeswoman warned dry lightning could hit in the west of the state on Thursday evening, which could cause further problems.
Total fire bans are in place in the Mallee and Wimmera districts, with farmers, particularly in the state’s northwest, warned of extreme fire risk.
Ambulance Victoria said it had dealt with 25 reports of heat-related illness by 4pm and an additional eight cases where children had been locked in cars, including a three-year-old and a two-year-old in Greensborough.
That was despite peak motoring body RACV warned motorists never to leave children or animals inside cars.
CitiPower customers in Melbourne’s CBD and inner suburbs were hit by power outages, with 2500 homes losing power at some point on Thursday.
Some 1300 Powercor customers in central and western Victoria, and Melbourne’s western suburbs, also experienced outages during the day.
In St Kilda East, a driver suffered minor injuries when a power pole exploded, causing his windscreen to shatter but authorities aren’t sure if the incident was heatwave-related.
It was an uncomfortable journey home for some Melbourne workers.
Commuters faced delays on a number of Metro train lines because of issues unrelated to the heat, after balloons floated into overhead cables near busy Southern Cross Station and a signal problem at Caulfield.
The failure was in the forest areas.Advertisement
Following a 10-year strategy, ACT fire managers have created a mosaic across the landscape of different fuel levels, burning at every opportunity.
But forests have been too wet to burn this spring and the past two summers.
A network of 500 fire trails and strategic burns along the north-west urban edge, heavy grazing and extra grass slashing will create a fortress for the territory which forecasters say faces a higher than average risk this summer.
After a fire-fuelled tornado in January 2003 killed four Canberrans and frightened thousands more, CSIRO fire expert Phil Cheney told the subsequent inquiry the fire’s penetration into urban areas under extreme conditions did not reflect a failure of fuel management on the urban interface.