Extreme weather continues to scorch Southern California, concern over power grid


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More than 80 Southern California Edison customers in one Simi Valley neighborhood lost power because, the utility said, the demand was so high. The residents near 1st Street and Leisure Lane spent the night without electricity - not being able to use the air conditioning or even turn on a fan. Wednesday morning, traffic lights were out in the area, and stop signs had to be put up to alert motorists.

Crews worked through the night to get the lights back on. The power went out at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and wasn't restored until after noon Wednesday. SCE officials say the outage was caused by equipment problems from extreme heat.

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There is no Flex Alert in place, but utility officials are asking customers to conserve energy as much as possible during the heat wave to avoid over-taxing the power grid and also to keep electricity bills low. SCE says the high demand for around-the-clock energy use could lead to failed equipment and power outages.

"We're noticing that there's been a spike at our levels and we want to make sure we monitor that. And as monitoring that we want to make sure our customers go out and conserve now," said SCE spokesman Darryl Ryan. "We want our system to take a rest and cool down, and as that system is cooling we can prevent those outages from taking place. If the system doesn't get a chance to break, we obviously get to the point to where outages can start to happen."

SCE advises customers to set thermostats no lower than 78 degrees and to use the fan instead of air conditioning when practical.

Other conservation tips:
- Turn off unused appliances
- Shut off lights when leaving a room
- Close drapes and blinds to keep the sun out
- Use appliances during early morning and evening hours
- Limit the opening of refrigerators

The heat wave is expected to continue until Friday with temperatures in the valley to spike well into the triple digits.

Tuesday, Lancaster tied a record high at 107 degrees and Saugus hit 108, making it the hottest spot in Los Angeles County. Health officials are urging the public to take the heat wave seriously.

Cooling centers have been set up throughout Southern California, and Southern California Edison also has sites established throughout the state.

Find a cooling center in your area

In the event you can't avoid being in the sun, health officials say remember to wear sun block, get plenty of shade and keep hydrated. Officials also advise keeping an eye on elderly neighbors and children.

In Santa Clarita, the mercury easily hit the upper 90s before noon. Despite the heat, people crowded into Six Flags Magic Mountain to make the best of the sunshine.

While some chose to play in the heat, others decided to beat it and get a workout early in the day.

"I wake up early in the morning just to make sure I can get a workout before it gets too hot," said Santa Clarita resident Kelli Lewis.

Emergency room doctors at Henry Mayo Hospital say they've seen a 10-15 percent spike in patients with heat-related illnesses in the last week. However, L.A. County fire officials in the high desert say they haven't had any heat-related emergencies in their area.

Authorities want to remind people that children and pets should not be left unattended in the sun or in cars with the windows up. Animal control also recommends checking pets' water bowls often because in this kind of heat the water can get hot quickly.

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