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L.A. swelters on hottest day on record

September 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A record high temperature was set in downtown L.A. as the Southland experienced a heat wave Monday.The high temperature hit 113 degrees in downtown at 12:15 p.m., which is the hottest since records began in 1877.

Red-flag warnings are in effect for Los Angeles and Ventura counties and the Santa Clarita Valley.

The high heat and dry conditions amount to increased fire danger. Crews all across the Southland are preparing for possible fires, moving to areas with high fire danger.

Southern California Edison said 33,169 lost power. Among the affected were Diamond Bar, Carson, Compton, Santa Monica, Torrance, WeHo, Santa Ana and Alhambra.

Inland, the sign at the Mill Creek Ranger Station in Mentone warned of extreme fire danger Monday.

As record-breaking heat envelops the Inland Empire, brush across the area is extremely dry.

The U.S. Forest Service says when it comes to fire danger, we're now in the most critical time of year.

"This is the peak of our fire season. Yes, it has been a mild year, but now we're starting to see those seasonal warm weathers and low relative humidities," said U.S. Forest Service Spokesman John Miller.

Miller says the threat of Santa Ana winds and even the possibility of dry lightning have fire crews on full alert.

"We have moved resources from Northern California here, onto the San Bernardino and the Angeles National Forest. We have all of our aircraft, hand crews and engines ready," said Miller. "We have extended our staffing."

Another warning from the Forest Service: Vehicle fires are prevalent under current Southern California weather conditions.

Residents are also urged to report any suspicious activity.

A red-flag warning was in effect in the Santa Clarita Valley Monday. L.A. County and Cal-Fire departments combined resources at Fire Station 126 in Valencia.

"You thought you were out of the summer weather -- it's back," said L.A. County Fire Capt. Mark Savage. "But it also brings that fire danger with it. So we're aware of it. We want the public to be aware of it. We want the public to not do anything to help contribute to the startup of a brush fire with cigarettes, open flame."

"Times like this, we want to make sure we're working together to get these fires early, get them small," said Cal-Fire Battalion Chief Steve Crawford. "We'll pre-position resources down here to help them. If a fire starts, we can jump on it with them and knock it down real quick."

Monday's extreme heat prompted adjustments to train speeds and schedules. Metro Green, Blue and Gold Line trains were ordered to reduce their maximum speeds to 45 mph until 8 p.m. Monday, according to the agency. Metro riders were warned of delays of approximately 5 minutes.

Metrolink's heat restrictions spurred warnings of delays of up to 15 minutes.

A brush fire in Pasadena broke out on Sunday night and briefly threatened homes before fire crews knocked it down. Witnesses said they saw sparks coming from power lines that could have possibly started the fire.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power advises customers to conserve energy, as to prevent overtaxing the city's electrical infrastructure.

One of the best jobs to have in this sweltering heat may be to work at the Union Central Cold Storage, where it was a cool 34 degrees.

"Every time it gets hot, you just have to walk in the freezers and you're cool. The guys inside the freezers actually wear coats," said Gaynel Rader, the owner of Union Central Cold Storage.

Rader said she welcomes the hot weather.

"We'll be busy all day, and this weekend we were tremendously busy. We had to have deliveries more of ice than we normally have because we have to keep up with the demand," Rader said.

Others out and about in the heat aren't so lucky. Locals and tourists alike melted underneath the sun.

"I'm surprised because it's meant to be the fall, is that right? I thought it'd be a bit colder," said Anna Peckering, who was visiting from Australia. "I thought it'd be hot, but this is very Australian heat."

Most people on the streets rushed indoors in search of air conditioning.

"At home, I don't turn on the AC unless I absolutely have to, so I sort of look forward to coming to work just so I can have some cool air," said Los Angeles resident Chanelle Johnson.

"I have my air conditioner on, and I have a fan on to circulate the air. With this heat, I noticed the air conditioner isn't meeting the capacity of the heat these days, so I have to have the fan on too, and I slept with the fan on all night," said Marsha Gibson, who was out at the Rose Bowl to jog on Monday morning.

"You have to exercise early, because if you try to come out here when it's 9 or 10, you're not going to make it," Gibson said.

Heat wave safety tips

  • Drink more fluids, and don't wait until you're thirsty.

  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing

  • If possible, stay in a cool and air-conditioned place.

  • Never leave people or pets in parked vehicles.

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