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Unofficial end of summer brings no heat relief in West

Sep 3, 2017 From wire reports

The Western United States baked through the unofficial end of summer, as temperatures in some parts threatened to peak Saturday at levels not seen in decades and wilting heat challenged crews battling wildfires across the region.

Dozens of cooling centers opened throughout California, schools let students out early and outdoor events were cancelled as temperatures soared from a heat wave expected to last through the Labor Day weekend.

In normally cool and foggy San Francisco, temperatures reached an all-time high of 106 degrees Friday afternoon, well above the city's 90-degree record set for the day in 1950 and the all-time record high of 103 degrees set in 2000.

Areas inland from the San Francisco Bay Area could reach 115 degrees, a temperature last seen in 1950, forecasters said.

Temperatures in Sacramento were expected to shoot past 110.

The warmth extended up the West Coast, with excessive-heat warnings posted for southwest Oregon and lesser advisory-level conditions in northwest Oregon. Western Washington state expected a sunny, hot and dry Labor Day weekend.

Elsewhere in the West, fire weather warnings were in effect for parts of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana, where a fire was burning in Glacier National Park.

Fire crews

The heat created difficulties for crews fighting a wildfire just north of downtown Los Angeles.

Several hundred firefighters worked to contain a blaze that chewed through brush-covered mountains, prompting evacuation orders for more than 600 homes in Los Angeles, Burbank and Glendale.

No injuries have been reported, and one home has burned, officials said. At nearly 8 square miles, the fire was the largest in the city's history, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

Fire officials said that if winds do not pick up, they were confident they could confine the fire to slopes that have not burned in several decades.

Western Washington state expected a sunny, hot and dry holiday weekend. A fire about 80 miles southeast of Seattle has burned more than 23 square miles and led to new evacuations notices Saturday.

Cooling centers

The extreme heat sent project manager Michelle Ogburn to a cooling center set up in Santa Clara's North Branch Library, where ice water stations were set up and dozens of people, many of them homeless, were taking shelter Friday afternoon.

"I work from home and I live in an old mobile home with no air conditioning and not very good insulation. Today it was very hot and I just couldn't work," said Ogburn, who lives in Sunnyvale, California.

Schools in the city of Orinda closed early Friday and sports events in several high schools in the area were canceled or rescheduled.

The extreme heat and light wind combined with vehicle exhaust are prompting officials to ask Bay Area motorists to limit their driving to reduce pollution. Smoke from at least a dozen wildfires burning in Northern California is drifting into Bay Area skies and contributing to the unhealthy air.

Ogburn said a friend offered to let her borrow a portable air conditioner but she didn't take up the offer.

"It's too much energy to run it," she said. "If it gets too hot over the weekend, I'll leave the house and go to a movie."

Managers of California's power grid asked for voluntary electricity conservation as forecasters predicted more extreme heat statewide. Tens of thousands of people across the state were without power at various times Friday, though most outages didn't last long.

An excessive heat advisory remains in effect through Monday night for interior valley and higher elevations in the Bay Area, the National Weather Service said.

The California Independent System Operator predicted demand on the system would set a record higher than the 50,270 megawatts on July 24, 2006.

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2017-09-24