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Lightning strikes spark fires

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Nearing the end of a searing day when the temperature topped 45 degrees in Adelaide, lightning strikes have sparked numerous grass fires across the state.

Adelaide’s second of five consecutive days of temperatures above 40 degrees has been a scorcher, but worse is forecast to come.

The Bureau of Meteorology originally forecast the mercury in Adelaide to reach 43 degrees tomorrow and Thursday before dropping to 40 degrees on Friday.

But the bureau has updated its forecast to 45 degrees on Wednesday and a near-record 46 on Thursday. The all-time high temperature for Adelaide is 46.1C, set on January 12, 1939.

READ MORE: Homeless face “worst week of the year”.

This afternoon a storm front swept over the state, sparking numerous grass fires and power blackouts.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill attended an Emergency Management Council meeting this afternoon. He urged people in bushfire prone areas to implement their Bushfire Action Plans.

A senior forecaster says.Adelaide’s heatwave is a “class act” as it challenges records dating back more than 70 years.

The heatwave was also forecast to give the city five consecutive days above 40C, making it the city’s third longest hot spell.

In 1908 and 2009, Adelaide recorded six days above 40C, but Bureau of Meteorology acting regional director John Nairn said they both came at a time when Australia was gripped by drought.

“It’s a class act in terms of a heatwave, so it does deserve our attention,” Nairn said.

While Adelaide sizzled, the hottest spot in SA on Tuesday was Keith, in the southeast, where the mercury hit 47.2C while at Pallamana, east of Adelaide, it reached 46.3C and at Lameroo and Port Augusta 46.2C.

The conditions prompted Weatherill to convene a special Emergency Management Council meeting to allow the government and emergency services to discuss the threats posed by the high temperatures.

“People need to closely monitor the weather in their area and ensure they are prepared for extreme circumstances,” Mr Weatherill said.

The premier said forecast thunderstorms in some districts were also increasing the risk of major bushfires.

On Tuesday the Country Fire Service battled a string of incidents, including fires in the Adelaide Hills, on Kangaroo Island, on Eyre Peninsula, at Cape Jervis and in the mid-north.

In the Barossa Valley about 1000 homes and businesses lost power while almost 4000 suffered a cut to services across Adelaide’s inner-northern suburbs.

The state’s ambulance service reported a 12 per cent rise in demand for its services with about 20 heat-related admissions to local hospitals in the 24 hours to 8am (CDST) on Tuesday.

An ambulance service spokesman said Wednesday and Thursday were likely to be the worst days for heat-related calls.

MORE HEATWAVE INFO

Go here for Adelaide Metro heatwave timetable changes.

For SES updates, go here.

SA Health provides advice on dealing with extreme heat.

– with AAP

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