It's Expected to Be Hot as a Firecracker

Times Staff Writer

Day Five of the heat wave sizzled along Wednesday as Orange County residents prepared to celebrate the Fourth amid continuing temperatures near 100 degrees.

The temperature peaked at 95 in San Juan Capistrano Wednesday (it hit 111 degrees there on Monday) and 93 in Santa Ana. Los Angeles posted a high of 100.

Temperatures are expected to peak between 98 and 104 today, followed by overnight lows between 65 and 72, according to the National Weather Service. Friday will bring more of the same, with highs near 100 and lows in the 60s. Similar temperatures are expected to prevail through the weekend and on Monday, the weather service said.

Beaches again provided a haven for tens of thousands who sought relief from inland temperatures 15 to 20 degrees higher than the 75s and 80s along the coast.

Lifeguards are predicting capacity crowds today at all beaches.

"We just got quite a few signs made up that say 'Lot Full,' and they'll probably all be used," said Jim Balok, a lifeguard at Huntington State Beach. Balok estimated that 75,000 people would visit Huntington and Bolsa Chica State beaches today.

A lifeguard at Laguna Beach predicted a crowd of 40,000 for today, 15,000 more than Wednesday. Steve Seim, a marine safety officer at Huntington City Beach, said he expects about 50,000 people today, double the total of Wednesday.

Newport Beach lifeguard Gordon Reed said "at least 100,000" visitors would come out today. Reed added that moderate surf and fairly chilly water--about 63 degrees--would probably keep down the number of rescues. "We shouldn't be that active (today)," he said Wednesday afternoon.

The continuing heat wave, combined with the expected use of fireworks today, kept the Orange County Fire Department on "red flag alert." Spokesman Joe Kerr said fire danger will remain high through Sunday, and special five-engine "strike teams" will continue to be dispatched to make sure small fires are extinguished before they have a chance to spread.

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