Home Business Californians seek relief as heatwave grips state for eighth day

Californians seek relief as heatwave grips state for eighth day


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SACRAMENTO — A man in a heat-struck Los Angeles suburb and a woman with two young children in Pomona were among Californians desperately seeking cool shelter as extreme temperatures scorched the state for an eighth straight day on Wednesday.

Temperatures were expected to top 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) in Sacramento, the state capital, and other inland valleys and topped 100 degrees around Los Angeles.

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The agency that runs much of California’s electric grid urged consumers to conserve power late in the day and into the evening to avoid power outages as a heat wave swept through the drought-stricken region and crews battled multiple wildfires linked to dry conditions.

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Many people without air conditioning or homes found relief in cooling centers operating in city hall conference rooms and community centers.

But countless homeless people were on the streets of downtown Los Angeles looking for any shade they could find, said Andy Bales, president and CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, which helps people experiencing homelessness.

Bales said he and his staff hit the streets twice a day to hand out water bottles. Some people were barely moving, he said, opening their eyes only to look at the volunteers and grab a cool bottle.

According to him, about 1,000 people took refuge in three facilities of the Union Rescue Mission in the area.

The organization also found cool places to stay for others, including two mothers with children and a man who called from suburban Simi Valley, where temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday.

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A high school football player collapsed in Sacramento, which was hit hard by a prolonged heat wave that began in Southern California and moved north over the Labor Day weekend. A local fitness center chain canceled classes, saying its air conditioning system couldn’t keep up.

Temperatures will remain extreme for the next few days before residents get some relief over the weekend, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service.

Evacuation orders remained in effect in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, and Siskiyou County, in the northernmost part of the state, which borders Oregon, as crews responded to deadly wildfires.

The Fairview Fire in Riverside was only 5% contained as of Wednesday morning after burning 7,000 acres (2,830 hectares), according to the Riverside County Fire Department. The fire killed two people and injured another.

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Fire crews are 65 percent contained to the Milli Fire in Siskiyou, which has burned nearly 4,000 acres (1,620 hectares).

Electricity prices soared to a two-year high on Tuesday and demand hit an all-time high as homes and businesses turned on their air conditioners.

California’s Independent System Operator (ISO), the grid operator for much of the state, lifted its warning of possible intermittent outages on Tuesday with no outages.

While urging consumers and businesses to continue saving, the grid operator is primarily concerned about the late afternoon and evening when the sun sets and solar power is no longer available.

The ISO last ordered utilities to shut off power for two days in August 2020, when outages to about 800,000 homes and businesses lasted from 15 minutes to about 2-1/2 hours.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavin and Tyler Clifford in New York and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento Editing by Nick Ziminski, Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler)



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