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MELBOURNE, Australia – Southern Australia suffered Friday from a record-breaking heat wave that has threatened rural towns with wildfires and sent ambulance crews after heat-stressed patients.
Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city recorded its third consecutive day of temperatures above 43 degrees Celsius (109 F) for the first time since 1855, when record-keeping began, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The temperature in Melbourne topped 45.1 C (113 F) on Friday ahead of a cooler change that might even bring some thunder showers, the bureau said.
Adelaide, the other major city on the south coast, is expected to match its longest heat wave in a century by Monday, with six consecutive days exceeding 40 C (104 F). The heat there buckled train and tram lines.
The high temperatures have afflicted tennis players and spectators alike this week at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where men's No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic retired ill from a game Tuesday after heat-related complaints.
The retractable roofs on Rod Laver Arena have been closed at least parts of the last three days.
There was controversy Wednesday when they closed the roof during the match between Serena Williams and Svetlana Kutzetsova. The Russian had won the first set, but the break gave Williams time to recover and she rallied to win.
Players complained that it felt like their feet were burning right through their shoes. A bunch of moths that have annoyed the players were basically sizzling and dying within seconds of landing on the broiling court surface.
Melbourne is the capital of Victoria state, where three rural towns were under threat from wildfires spreading quickly in the furnace-like conditions, Country Fire Authority deputy chief fire officer Geoff Conway said.
The summer frequently extends into periods of heat wave and drought, while the winters, while usually cold, wet and windy, are quite mild in comparison to winters in many European countries.