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Heat wave rolls across US West; wildfires rage in several states
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Heat wave rolls across US West; wildfires rage in several states

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California fires advance as heat wave covers West

Firefighters struggled to contain an exploding Northern California wildfire under blazing temperatures as another heat wave blanketed the West, prompting an excessive heat warning for inland and desert areas.

Death Valley in southeastern California's Mojave Desert reached 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53 Celsius) on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service's reading at Furnace Creek. The shockingly high temperature was actually lower than the previous day, when the location reached 130 F (54 C).

The 130-degree reading would be the hottest high recorded there since July 1913, when Furnace Creek desert hit 134 F (57 C), considered the highest measured temperature on Earth.

The National Weather Service warned the dangerous conditions could cause heat-related illnesses.

About 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of the sizzling desert, the largest wildfire of the year in California was raging along the border with Nevada. The Beckwourth Complex Fire — a combination of two lightning-caused fires burning 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Lake Tahoe — showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.

It was one of several threatening homes across Western states that were expected to see triple-digit heat through the weekend as a high-pressure zone blankets the region.

Elsewhere so far this weekend:

  • Pushed by strong winds, a wildfire in southern Oregon doubled in size to 120 square miles (311 square kilometers) Saturday as it raced through heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest near the Klamath County town of Sprague River.
  • California's power grid operator issued a statewide Flex Alert from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday to avoid disruptions and rolling blackouts.
  • In California's agricultural Central Valley, 100-degree temperatures blanketed the region, with Fresno reaching 111 degrees F (44 C), just one degree short of the all-time high for the date,
  • Las Vegas late Saturday afternoon tied the all-time record high of 117 F (47 C), the National Weather Service said. The city has recorded that record-high temperature four other times, most recently in June 2017.
  • In Southern California, a brush fire sparked by a burning big rig in eastern San Diego County forced evacuations of two Native American reservations Saturday.
  • In north-central Arizona, Yavapai County on Saturday lifted an evacuation warning for Black Canyon City, an unincorporated town 43 miles (66 kilometers) north of Phoenix, after a fire in nearby mountains no longer posed a threat. In Mohave County, Arizona, two firefighters died Saturday after a aircraft they were in to respond to a small wildfire crashed, local media reported.
  • A wildfire in southeast Washington grew to almost 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) as it blackened grass and timber while it moved into the Umatilla National Forest.
  • In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little declared a wildfire emergency Friday and mobilized the state's National Guard to help fight fires sparked after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region.

Full coverage:

Washington heat wave in June sets record as the hottest ever across United States during that month.

Associated Press writers Bob Jablon in Los Angeles, Martha Bellisle in Seattle and Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed to this story.

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