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Record heat brings power outages, fire and light-rail delays

September 27, 2010 |  5:46 pm

The record heat in Los Angeles had firefighters battling a blaze in Thousand Oaks and left some residents without power.

It was about 108 degrees in Thousand Oaks, where firefighters battled a 25-acre brush fire off the 101 Freeway. No homes were damaged, and firefighters were getting control of the blaze.

“At the time, it was so hot that waves of shimmering heat were rising from the freeway,” said passerby Aleia Wolkins of Canoga Park. “The flames made it even hotter."

A smaller brush fire was quickly extinguished earlier in the day in Ladera Heights.

The heat put pressure on Southern California’s power grid, with utilities urging the public to conserve.

Southern California Edison reported 11,000 customers without power Monday evening in cities including Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Diamond Bar, Alhambra, Glendora and Rosemead.

The heat prompted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to reduce the speeds on some of its rail lines, causing some delays.

"Metro is reducing the speed on the Metro Green, Blue and Gold lines to a maximum of 45 mph until 8 p.m., due to extreme heat over a prolonged period of time. Metro Rail riders should expect up to five-minute delays. This is only precautionary, with safety first in mind," the agency said in a statement.

Elsewhere, people were trying to beat the heat.

Kimberly Horton, 46, and her partner Jennifer Tubbs, 51, of Los Angeles were sitting under a huge Goodwill donation truck in the parking lot of a shopping center in Arcadia.

Their job five days a week is to sit in the open air to welcome walk-up donations. On Monday they dodged the relentless sun by chasing the shadow of the truck. But about noon there was nowhere to hide.

“We follow the shade,” said Tubbs, 51. “At noon there was no shade. We had to sit underneath the truck.”

“I used to live in Las Vegas. This is just another day to me,” said Horton, 46, as bead-sized sweat dripped from her face. “I am sitting out here because it’s cooler out here than it is in the trailer. If you look inside the trailer, you see it stops circulation.”

“It does feel like the hottest day -- everything made of metal is too hot to the touch, feels like you will burn yourself,” said Tubbs, pointing out the used sofas, TVs, fake plants and light fixtures she helped lift into the trailer.

“Sometimes the donors take their time unloading the stuff," she said. "I start sweating and getting dizzy because of the heat. The sweat runs into my eyes.”

But Tubbs is philosophical about the record-breaking heat. “It’s psychological,” she said. “You don’t want to think it’s hot.”

-- Rong-Gong Lin II in Los Angeles, Catherine Saillant in Thousand Oaks and Ching-Ching Ni in Arcadia

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times


Photos: Hottest day in L.A. ever  since 1877, anyway