Pumpkin supply victim of fall heat wave

MOORPARK, Calif. (KABC) -- As Southern California roasts under an autumn heat wave, so do the pumpkins being grown for Halloween.

The brutal drought and severe heat has been affecting the size of the pumpkins at Underwood Family Farms at 3370 Sunset Valley Road in Moorpark.

Families may have fewer pumpkins to choose from. Those that are available may generally be smaller than usual.

"It's been very hot. We've had to irrigate our pumpkins when they're growing," Russell Blades of Underwood Family Farms said. "We're fortunate that we pump our own water out of the ground, but the drought is a real concern going into the next few months. We're really keeping our fingers crossed for some rain this year. We really, really, need it, otherwise, we're all going to be in trouble next year."

But it's not just the pumpkin crop suffering in the heat. With temperatures in the Ventura County area expected to hit triple-digits this weekend, Blades says they're telling visitors to take it easy when visiting the farm, especially visitors with small children.

Meantime, the Ventura County Fire Department is on alert. Even though the winds are dying down, it's still hot and dry and that adds up to a high fire danger.

"Our fuel moistures are so dry now all over Southern California," Ventura County Fire Capt. Mike Lindbery said. "We've seen it in Northern California all summer long. It's basically moved down here and if there's an ignition, we have a high potential of a large fire.

Lindbery says Ventura County firefighters are also ready for the extra medical calls they're expecting because of the heat.

"You need to stay hydrated, stay indoors, stay out of the sun," Lindbery said. "If you're working outdoors, make sure you have good protection, make sure you have a place you can go to cool off, and above all you need to make sure that you hydrate constantly and continuously throughout the day."

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.

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