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Triple-digit temperatures continue as stubborn heat wave bakes Southern California

Patricia Morataya kept busy Wednesday in Woodland Hills, where temperatures are known to break records.

Throughout the day, amid a scorching heat wave that is setting records from Redding to Lake Elsinore, people passing by gravitated to her fruit cart at the corner of Topanga Canyon and Ventura boulevards.

As a breeze blew nothing but hot vapor into the air, gardeners, bus riders and pedestrians stopped by to seek relief in big cups stuffed with chilled watermelon, mango and cucumber.

“This heat doesn’t forgive anyone,” one gardener told Morataya as he waited his turn.

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“No, it doesn’t,” said Morataya, who lives in Van Nuys. “I’m going to go from dark to dark and burned after this week.”

And according to the National Weather Service, there’s no relief in sight.

A high-pressure system that smothered the West Coast over the weekend will stay in place through at least Monday, keeping temperatures up to 25 degrees above average in some communities. Officials have issued an excessive heat advisory in southwest California through Friday and a heat advisory for Northern California through the weekend.

“It’s basically everything west of the Rockies,” said Charles Bell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in the Bay Area. “We could see some places reach all-time record temperatures.”

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On Wednesday, forecasters expected Woodland Hills’ heat record for the date of 112 to be matched or broken, while Pomona and Palmdale could approach their records for the date of 109 and 108 degrees, respectively. Firefighters battling a blaze hundreds of miles north near Oroville contended with similar temperatures while fighting flames that have destroyed 10 homes and threatened many more.

“It’s going to be a long fight because of the weather conditions,” said Mary Ann Aldrich, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Butte County.

In Orange County, parents of preschool-age children flocked to a tiny indoor playground at the Shops at Mission Viejo.

“What choice do we have — whoever thought it would be dangerous to be at a park right now?” said Julie Chan, with 3-year-old Ben in tow. “I just read all the warnings about heat stroke and dehydration, and it sounds like we’re living in the desert, not beautiful Southern California where everyone goes to visit the beaches. This is actually when you avoid the beaches, because how long would it take to find parking?”

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While her son sipped milk and munched on sliced apples, Chan said her family’s plans for a Labor Day barbecue are canceled. “Nothing outdoors,” she said. “I was planning to go to the store and stock up, but I’m throwing out the list. We’re watching Netflix instead.”

In South L.A., animal cruelty officers were investigating a possible case of neglect after a dog was tied up outside in the heat Wednesday afternoon and died.

Some tourists in downtown Los Angeles were caught off guard by the blazing heat and turned to the large fountain and splash pad in Grand Park for relief.

“It’s hot in Brazil, but not this hot,” said Isabella Antoniali, 26, after taking a barefoot stroll through the fountain with Mario Graciotti, also 26.

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They came from Pasadena on the Metro Gold Line to escape the scorching 101-degree heat there. The splash pad was their first stop after getting off the train in Little Tokyo and before exploring the rest of downtown.

“We needed a rest,” Graciotti said. “We are struggling.”

Not everyone was miserable in the heat.

German newlyweds Marvin and Bianca May sat at a nearby table, soaking in every last bit of California sun. Wednesday was the last day of their honeymoon.

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Marvin said he wasn’t looking forward to winter back in Herne, Germany, where there can be feet of snow on the ground as temperatures drop below freezing.

“We love it when it’s hot,” he said. “It’s a little over the top in L.A., but we like it.”

But when temperatures don’t significantly drop at night, as has been the case this week, problems arise, utility companies said.

In June, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in Northern California experienced several outages amid a brutal heat wave when the humidity kept temperatures oppressively hot overnight. Customers continued to use electricity, and equipment did not get to cool down. When the sun rose and the daytime heat arrived, transformers overheated.

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The same thing is happening now in Southern California. Thousands of Southern California Edison and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers have experienced blackouts this week because their overworked equipment has not had a chance to properly cool at night, company officials said.

“It’s human nature. They want to conserve, but by the fourth day it’s, ‘You know, it’s just too hot. Forget it,’ ” said Edison spokesman David Song.

The demand for power caused the California Independent System Operator this week to issue its third flex alert of the year, calling for utility customers to conserve energy. The agency covers 80% of Californians and saw its highest demand of the year Monday.

In Glendale on Wednesday, construction crews forged ahead in the heat where several condos are being built near the Americana shopping center.

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They carried pipes on their backs, swept debris off the floor and hammered away on top floors.

Alfred Ontiveros wiped sweat off his forehead as he poured water out of a giant hose into a gaping hole in the street at the corner of Wilson and Kenilworth avenues.

He and his crew were replacing a main pipe line.

“I gotta pay those bills,” said Ontiveros, from West Covina.

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In 35 years as a construction worker, he’s seen many hot days. He doesn’t care for sunglasses and hats get in the way, so he often bears the sun’s rays head on, his skin a leathery brown.

“It’s hard,” Ontiveros said. “This ain’t something you ever get used to.”

esmeralda.bermudez@latimes.com

anh.do@latimes.com

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javier.panzar@latimes.com

Times staff writers Joseph Serna and Veronica Rocha contributed to this report.


UPDATES:

3:50 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details, comments and reaction to the heat.

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This article was originally published at 11:20 a.m.


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