SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Firefighters struggled to contain a wildfire that exploded in northern California in scorching temperatures as another heat wave blanketed the west, triggering an excessive heat warning for interior and desert areas.
Death Valley in the Mojave Desert in southeastern California hit 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53 degrees Celsius) on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service reading in Furnace Creek. The incredibly high temperature was actually cooler than the day before, when the location hit 130 F (54 C).
If confirmed to be accurate, the 130-degree reading would be the highest recorded since July 1913, when the Furnace Creek Desert hit 1.34 F (57 C), considered the highest measured temperature on Earth.
About 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of the Scorching Desert, California’s biggest wildfire of the year raged along the border with Nevada. The Beckwourth Complex fire – a combination of two fires caused by lightning scorching 72 kilometers north of Lake Tahoe – showed no signs of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra forest region. Nevada after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.
Late Saturday, flames hit Interstate 395 and threatened properties in Washoe County, Nevada. “Take immediate action to protect large animals and livestock,” the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District tweeted.
The blaze, which was only 8% contained, increased dramatically to 222 square kilometers (86 square miles) as firefighters smothered in 100-degree temperatures.
It was one of many looming homes in the western states expected to experience triple-digit heat throughout the weekend as an area of high pressure blankets the region.
Driven by high winds, a wildfire in southern Oregon doubled in size to 120 square miles (311 square kilometers) on Saturday as it traversed heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, near from the town of Sprague River in Klamath County.
The National Weather Service has warned that the hazardous conditions could cause heat-related illness, while the California power grid operator issued a statewide Flex alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday for avoid disruption and continuous power outages.
The California Independent System Operator has warned of a possible power shortage, not only because of increasing heat, but also because a wildfire in southern Oregon threatened power lines. imported to California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation on Friday suspending the rules to allow more electrical capacity, and ISO has called for emergency aid from other states. Newsom issued another proclamation on Saturday authorizing the emergency use of auxiliary ship engines to relieve pressure on the power grid.
Palm Springs, in southern California, hit a record high temperature of 120 F (49 C) on Saturday. It was the fourth time temperatures have reached 120 degrees so far this year, the Desert Sun reported.
In California’s Central Agricultural Valley, temperatures of 100 degrees blanketed the region, with Fresno reaching 111 degrees F (44 C), just one degree cooler than the all-time high.
Las Vegas late Saturday afternoon tied the all-time record of 117 F (47 C), the National Weather Service said. The city has recorded this record temperature on four other occasions, the most recent in June 2017.
NV Energy, Nevada’s largest electricity supplier, also urged customers to save electricity on Saturday and Sunday nights due to the heat wave and wildfires affecting transmission lines across the region.
In southern California, a bushfire started by a large burning platform in eastern San Diego County forced the evacuation of two Native American reservations on Saturday.
In north-central Arizona, Yavapai County on Saturday lifted an evacuation warning for Black Canyon City, an unincorporated town 41 miles north of Phoenix, after a fire in nearby mountains was no longer a threat. In Mohave County, Arizona, two firefighters died on Saturday after a plane they were in responding to a small wildfire crashed, local media reported.
A wildfire in southeast Washington reached nearly 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) as it blackened grass and wood as it moved through the Umatilla National Forest.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little declared a wildfire emergency on Friday and mobilized the State National Guard to help fight the fires started after thunderstorms swept through the fire-stricken region. drought.
Associated Press editors Bob Jablon in Los Angeles, Martha Bellisle in Seattle, and Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this story.