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Heat wave grips Southern California, brush fire threat grows

A heat wave that gripped Southern California on Wednesday is expected to last through the weekend, increasing the threat of wildfires and prompting officials to issue heat advisories for inland areas.

The National Weather Service issued an extreme heat watch from Thursday morning through Friday evening for valley areas in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Temperatures there were expected to exceed 100 degrees.

The soaring temperatures, which were expected to range from 5 to 10 degrees above normal, are the result of a high-pressure ridge building over the Southwest, the weather service said.

On Tuesday, brush fires briefly threatened homes in Walnut and Camarillo and scorched at least 3,000 acres at Camp Pendleton. The onset of warmer weather will continue to dry up grasses and brush on parched Southern California hillsides, fire officials said Wednesday.

"With the increase of heat there's always an increase in fire danger," said Inspector Don Kunitomi of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

He and other experts noted that additional factors, including wind, humidity and fuel moisture, can cause dry brush to ignite and spread. "That makes it easier for the fire to take off," said Capt. Ron Oatman of the Ventura County Fire Department.

Both county fire agencies attributed aggressive fire attacks and vigilant brush clearance by residents in helping crews beat back the flames in Walnut and Camarillo.

The hot weather prompted Los Angeles County heath officials Wednesday to warn people in Lancaster and the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys about prolonged exposure to the sun.

"When temperatures are high, prolonged sun exposure may cause dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke," said Jonathan E. Fielding, director of the county Department of Public Health. "Never leave children, elderly people or pets unattended in vehicles, even with the windows 'cracked' or opened."

--Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Beach goers in the water escaping the heat at Santa Monica Beach. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (13)

Wow!! Heat wave after just one day!

Just like the big earthquake we just had......

Wait until you actually experience a real heat wave or a significant earthquake, then you "reporters" will cringe that you participated in publishing this stuff!

Are you jealous that people back east are really having a heat wave? Maybe you want an excuse to listen to Kermit and Miss Piggy signing Tropical Heat Wave?

Perhaps you could have just waited a few days before publishing the article.

We are not in a heat wave. We live in a desert and we are in July.

yeah, crazy heat wave. July 13th in Los Angeles at 91 degrees !

Wednesday, Los Angeles, noon, outside temp reading on car sensor....... 82 degrees.
"Heat wave grips Southern California" Where?

hahaha heat wave? its bone dry out here imagine being in the midwest or the south where humidity is 100% and its 95 degrees outside thats a heatwave

I wish I had read the comments first. I'm from New Hampshire and this would not quality as a heat wave yet... we'd need 3 days over 90. I'm pretty sure that's just the 'weather' here. I looked it up on Wikipedia (all things absolutely true, right?) and it said if it's extended it's called a Heat Storm here in Cali. Storm? Really? Now that sounds bad. Ick.

Maybe you guys should just stay outside for the remainder of the day? lol j/k

I think they are more referring to the desert areas, like Camp Pendleton and so on. I think it is great they are beginning to warn people it will get hot & protect yourself & your children. I was taking my daughter to school yesterday & it is 92 & I saw a lady leave her young child in the car to get gas. ridiculous with how hot it is. people do stupid things when it is hot. we used to live in Anaheim & for days it would reach 100 - 102 sometimes.

Heat Wave...are you serious, funny stuff!

Well your lucky your not in Riverside! The heat wave is definitely being felt here. It's been around 100 degrees for the past couple of days.

Well your lucky your not in Riverside! The heat wave is definitely being felt here. It's been around 100 degrees for the past couple of days.

Brush fires are always a threat with the abundance of nimrods that live in LA. Two years ago, just after the fires above Sierra Madre, I caught a small family of twenty or so hauling a small BBQ pit, charcoal, lighter fluid, and plastic bags full of grub into the Angeles Nat'l Forest near Altadena. They were no more than 20 ft from one of those "fire danger" thermometer signs that was pegged full red.

It's just a matter of time.

The Gulf oil spill, hurricanes, and the recent heat wave have many searching for answers. The internet is buzzing with articles and excellent blogs. But could it be simply the biblical sequence of God's wrath being poured out upon the earth which is relevant to current events in today's world? What if we are dealing with the wrath of God? Please visit my blog at http://www.danielsblog.org . Author of the book Final Warning


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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