By msnbc.com staff
Australia is in the grip of what is expected to be a record-breaking heatwave, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Tuesday.
The country's prime minister, Julia Gillard, warned people to take safety advice seriously as temperatures rose about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in much of the country, the paper said.
The Herald reported that firefighters were dealing with hundreds of fires in southern areas of the country, while children left in cars had to receive medical treatment.
The city of Adelaide recorded its highest-ever temperature for Jan. 1 -- more than 106 degrees Fahrenheit -- in more than a century, the paper said.
Not using air conditioners
In the city of Victoria, paramedic Darren Murphy told the Herald that there was a case of heat-related illness reported every five minutes.
"We've gone to patients who are nearly 100 years old, they live at home alone, wearing heavy clothes, they have an air conditioner but they're not using it for whatever reason," Murphy added.
"We've gone to people who are in their mid-30s, who have been working outside all day, were drinking (water) but just not drinking enough and then we've also gone to young children who have either been at the beach or they've been left in their cars for short periods, who have been heat-affected as well," he told the Herald.
Steve Baldwin, an official in Diamantina, Southwest Queensland, said they were expecting temperatures of nearly 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 degrees Fahrenheit) Tuesday and warned it would be "even hotter on Wednesday and Thursday."
However, the Australian ABC TV station reported that rain and thunderstorms were expected to bring some relief from the heat to parts of the state of South Australia.
On Monday, electricity was cut to one area to prevent power lines setting off bushfires, BBC News reported.
More from msnbc.com and NBC News: