Los Angeles breaks 131-year heat record as California wildfires burn

The first major wildfires after the end of California’s five-year drought raged across the state Saturday, as it was gripped by a record-breaking heatwave

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 2:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 8:52pm

A high temperature record that stood for 131 years in Los Angeles has been shattered by a blistering heatwave.

The National Weather Service reported that the temperature downtown hit 36.5 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

The service reported that record temperature of 35 degrees for the date set in 1886 had been snapped around noon by a single degree. It updated its report later as the mercury climbed higher.

An excessive heatwave sent southern Californians flocking to beaches and in search of water, shade and air conditioning to escape the heat.

Woodland Hills reached a high of 43 degrees, breaking the record set in 2006.

“Man, it’s brutal out here,” said a shirtless man carrying a cooler to his truck.

The National Weather Service (NWS) attributed the heatwave to a “strong upper-level high-pressure system centred over the desert southwest.”

“Hot temperatures will create a dangerous situation in which there is an increased threat of heat-related illnesses. The extended heatwave will also bring elevated fire weather conditions through the weekend,” said the NWS.

Hundreds of people were ordered to evacuate from a fast-moving wildfire burning through steep terrain near California’s central coast.

The so-called Alamo Fire, feeding on bone-dry vegetation, nearly tripled in size on Saturday to about 19,000 acres (7,700 hectares) on the border between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

California Governor Jerry Brown in April declared the official end of the state’s drought that lasted more than five years.

But he kept in place water reporting requirements, as well as bans on practices like watering during or following rainfall and hosing off pavements.

“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.”

Wildfires have also spread rapidly in Canada last week. The province of British Columbia declared its first state of emergency in 14 years late on Friday as dozens of wildfires spread throughout the rural interior of the Pacific province, forcing thousands to evacuate their homes.

Tribune News Service, Reuters, Agence France-Presse