122 degrees: Palm Springs breaks record — and it could get hotter
A DC-10 air tanker drops Phos-Chek, a fire retardant, on the Fish fire in Duarte on June 22.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Aja Jasmin spends time with her horse Waldo, who has been evacuated along with 200 other horses to the Fairplex in Pomona because of the San Gabriel Complex fire.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Elizabeth Stolz of Duarte reads a book next to her horse Rhiannon at the Fairplex.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
A fire burns above Spinks Canyon Road in Duarte.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A Los Angeles County fire helicopter drops water on the San Gabriel Complex fire above Duarte.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Alex Bernardini helps his mother, Regina, move valuables back into their home two days after they were forced to evacuate as the San Gabriel Complex fire burned in the nearby hillsides.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters survey hillside charred by the Fish fire in Duarte.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Toby Coe feeds carrots to a stray horse awaiting transport to the Fairplex in Pomona. The stallion is believed to belong to Rancho Sierra Bonita, which was forced to quickly evacuate two days ago as the Fish fire burned nearby.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A stray horse is tied to a sign on Encanto Parkway in Duarte, awaiting transport to the Fairplex in Pomona. The stallion is believed to belong to Rancho Sierra Bonita, which was forced to quickly evacuate two days ago as the Fish fire burned nearby.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A flare up from the Fish fire can be seen in the hills abouve Duarte early Wednesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A DC-10 air tanker drops a load of fire retardant as the San Gabriel Complex fire continues to burn in the hills above Monrovia.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sycuan Golden Eagle Hot Shots head into the brush to create a fire break near Spinks Canyon Road in Duarte as the San Gabriel Complex fire continues to burn.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The charred remains of a truck are dragged uphill near the Morris reservoir a day after it crashed and started the Reservoir Fire near Azusa.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The charred and battered remains of a truck are dragged uphill near the Morris reservoir a day after it crashed and started the Reservoir Fire near Azusa.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Macelda Ramos helps her daughters Natalie Ramos, 9 right, and Olivia Ramos, 11, pack their belongings to be driven out from their home on Spinks Canyon Road in Duarte Tuesday as two brush fires burning dangerously close to each other in Duarte and Azusa.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Dr Seta Whitby, right, and her husband, Gordon Whitby, watch the progress of the firefight above their home on Spinks Canyon Road in Duarte.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
An LA County firefighter mops up hotspots on the hillside along 3200 block of Brookridge Rd. on Tuesday in Duarte.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
An LA County firefighting helicopter makes a water drop above Westvale Road as Fish fire burns in Duarte on Tuesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A deer finds shaded spot to rest under a tree along 200 block of Mt. Olive Drive as firefighters continue battle Fish Fire on Tuesday morning in Duarte.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A Los Angeles County firefighting helicopter makes a water drop above Westvale Road as the Fish fire burns in the hills above Duarte on Tuesday.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Kerry Lawrence waters her lawn on 300 block of Greenback Ave. Lawrence, who has been living in Duarte for 39 years, says she has been through this on four different occassions. Her cars are packed and ready to evacuate if asked.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Evacuee Elisa Pirard looks out at the smoke from the Fish fire above Duarte on Tuesday morning. Pirard and her husband, Chuck, spent the night in their motor home at the Red Cross Duarte Community Center Shelter.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Liz Reilly, left, talks to fellow evacuees Richard Evans, wife Dorothy and son Richard J. Evans, all of whom spent the night in a Red Cross shelter in Duarte after being forced to flee their homes.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
U.S. Forest Service firefighters Chris Calomino, left, and Pedro Barba are on fire watch at the 3200 block of Brookridge Road as the Fish fire burns above the hills in Duarte on Tuesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
U.S. Forest Sevice firefighter Pedro Barba keeps the hillside wet along Brookridge Road as a wildfire burns above the hills in Duarte on Tuesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters keep an eye on the flames on a hillside in Duarte as the fast-moving Fish fire continues to burn Tuesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
U.S. Forest Service firefighter Mike Aguirre keeps an eye on flames above Brookridge Road in Duarte as the Fish fire burns on Tuesday morning.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter gets some rest Tuesday morning after working overnight on the Fish fire, which is still raging in the hills above Duarte.(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
The Fish fire burns near homes in Bradbury on Monday evening as a Los Angeles County fire helicopter makes a nighttime water drop in a long-exposure image.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
The Fish fire as seen from Huntington Drive near the site of evacuations in Bradbury on Monday night.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
Onlookers take pictures of the Fish fire Monday evening off Huntington Drive as the fire burns uphill.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
The Fish fire burns near homes in Bradbury on Monday evening in this long-exposure image.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
A Los Angeles County fire engine provides structure defense in Bradbury on Monday night as the Fish fire threatens buildings in the neighborhood.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
The Fish fire burns above Huntington Drive on Monday evening.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
An L.A. County inmate fire crew member is outlined by the glow of flames at the Fish fire Monday.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
The Fish fire threatens homes in Bradbury as a Los Angeles County fire engine performs structure defense Monday evening.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
A residential street in Bradbury is threatened by the Fish fire as flames threaten the area Monday evening.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
A Los Angeles County inmate hand crew hikes above a residential neighborhood in Bradbury on Monday evening to battle the Fish fire.(Stuart Palley / For The Times)
Los Angeles County firefighters work with prison crews to put out hot spots in the Fish fire burning in the hills above Duarte on Monday.(Harrison Hill / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles County fire fighters prepare to fight the fish fire in Duarte.(Harrison Hill / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles County firefighters rest as the Fish Fire burns behind them Monday afternoo in Duarte.(Harrison Hill / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters in the air and on the ground work to control a fire that broke out in Duarte. Daniel Medina, 14, helps load his family’s car with important belongings as flames crested the ridgeline near his house.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Sebastian Guzman, 11, and Samantha Karakashyan, 12, evacuate a home on Las Lomas Road as a wildfire that started in Duarte heads in their direction.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Connie Tran, 17, holds her dog Snowball as she prepares to evacuate her house on Las Lomas Road.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
A helicopter joins in the fight against a wildfire that broke out in Duarte.
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighting helicopter drops water on the Fish fire near Duarte.
Duarte residents on Green Bank Avenue watch as firefighters battle a brush fire from the ground and the air.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A billboard frames a brush fire burning above Duarte.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Smoke from two fires -- one in Azusa and one in Duarte -- billows above the 210 Freeway on Monday.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Smoke is visible from the 210 Freeway as two brush fires burn in Duarte and Azusa.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles TImes)
With temperatures soaring, crowds flock to the beach on the north side of the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica.(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles TImes)
Guadalupe Esquivel, right, cools off her son Ricardo Esquivel, 4, second from left, and her grandchildren, from left, Jason Guerrero, 3, Alfredo Santos, 5, Kaylee Santos, 2 (partially blocked) and Isabella Esquivel, (back to camera), as they sit inside an inflatable pool at Woodley Park in Van Nuys.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Stephanie Wong creates her own shade with an umbrella walking past Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Monday.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Ruth Lopez, 13, whips water off her hair as she seeks relief from the heat while playing with cousins in the Memorial Fountain Splash Pad at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
USC professor Michael Harris holds a bottle of ice water to his head to combat eye strain while he sits in a coffee shop in Palm Springs, where the temperature reached a record high of 122 degrees on Monday.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Nece Smith, Lisa Smith and Linda Smith use an umbrella to shade themselves from the sun Monday on Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, where the temperature soared to a record 122 degrees.(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Two walkers trying to beat the heat with an early stroll cast long shadows Monday morning at the Rose Bowl.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Sprinklers offer a bit of relief as Danny Huerta, 23, who just graduated from UC Davis, is home doing wind sprints at the Rose Bowl. Many were trying to get in early-morning workouts to beat the heat on Monday.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters try to stay cool after battling a brush fire in Silver Lake.(Callaghan O’Hare / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter tries to control the flames that broke out in Silver Lake.(Callaghan O’Hare / Los Angeles Times)
Area resident Pascual Gutierrez uses a garden hose as he works alongside firefighters battling a blaze that threatened structures along the 2 Freeway where it meets the 5 Freeway.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighter turns to observe the brush fire under the 2 Freeway on Rosebud Avenue in Los Angeles on Sunday.(Dillon Deaton / Los Angeles Times)
In Silver Lake, a fire at a home quickly spread to brush along the 2 Freeway, prompting firefighters to call for more resources and air support. The freeway was closed in both directions near its terminus in Echo Park.(Dillon Deaton / Los Angeles Times)
Robert Aguilar pours water on his head during halftime of a soccer game at the Sepulveda Basin Sports Complex.(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)
Richard Saldana, 79, of Norwalk relaxes on a hot but breezy beach day in Alamitos Bay, Long Beach(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Michelle Valdez, 19, of Hawthorne enjoys the shade provided by two umbrellas planted in the sand at Alamitos Bay in Long Beach.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Jack Amsbry, 18, of Pasadena soaks up a warm beach breeze in Long Beach.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Zhang Zhifa and spouse Ding Zunqin, both 75 of Arcadia, enjoy some time at Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Jeremy Albucher of Los Feliz cools off with water after playing in a three-on-three pickup basketball game at North Hollywood Park in North Hollywood on Friday.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Joseph Cotts of Buena Park looks to pass the ball to a teammate in a three-on-three pickup basketball game at North Hollywood Park in North Hollywood on Friday.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
David Lone of Reseda relaxes inside his car parked in the shade at Balboa Park in Encino on Friday.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Every so often someone walks into the Palm Springs Visitors Center raring to burn through hiking trails like they’re British adventurer and TV personality Bear Grylls.
For those people, Ceej Juarez, who provides information about hiking trails in the Agua Caliente Indian reservation, has to be a voice of reason. And that is never as important a job as it was on Monday, when a torrid heat wave sent temperatures to 122 degrees in the resort city by early afternoon.
The temperature broke the former record for the date of 118 degrees in 1929, according to the National Weather Service. Other cities that hit new highs for the day included Riverside (113), Indio (120), Escondido (106) and Thermal (119).
“People die out here every year,” Juarez said. “First thing I tell them is that they must carry lots and lots of water. You need at least a quart per mile.”
Earlier in the morning, she said, a family wanted to drive to Las Vegas and take a scenic route through Joshua Tree National Park and then through the Mojave Desert.
The potent heat wave blistering Southern California triggered a red flag warning for the mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties and a plea by public utilities for consumers to save energy.
In the Angeles National Forest above Duarte and Azusa, fresh wildfires broke out with evacuation ordered for some neighborhoods.
The Reservoir fire scorched at least 600 acres at Highway 39 near Morris Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains, said Andrew Mitchell, spokesman for the Angeles National Forest. Azusa police issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents who live in the community of Mountain Cove.
In Duarte, firefighters tackled the 500-acre Fish fire as flames moved close to structures. Evacuation orders went out for homes near Encanto Parkway.
The heat wave has already broken records across the Southland, with more poised to fall on Monday.
Burbank was forecast to hit 108 degrees, eclipsing the old record of 106 degrees in 2008. In Santa Barbara, not far from where the Sherpa fire has scorched nearly 8,000 acres in the Santa Ynez Mountains, forecasters predict the heat to reach 98 degrees. The old record was 96 degrees set in 1973, said Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
It was 100 degrees in Pasadena before 9:30 a.m., the Weather Service said. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power issued a flex alert -- a call to save energy by consumers -- until 9 p.m.
When Bernardo Espinoza, 30, started his day gardening in Woodland Hills at 7 a.m., it was already hot. If it were up to him, he would have started even earlier.
Instead, Espinoza expected to work until about 3 p.m., doing steady gardening work at homes in Calabasas and Thousand Oaks through peak sun and temperatures that were expected to reach 111 degrees.
“You have no choice,” he said. “You can’t ask for the day off – you can only do that if it’s a holiday.” And anyway, he said, “if you don’t work today, next week will be worse -- you’ll have double the work.”
But the expected high temperatures didn’t faze Espinoza, who was smiling even as sweat streamed down his face. “You get used to the heat,” he said. “I’m not worried.”
Having worked in gardening for one year and in construction for 12 years before that, Espinoza knew how to deal with the heat. He wore a baseball cap, sunglasses, long sleeves and long pants and said he was carrying a dozen bottles of water in his truck, which he could fill up at gas stations if needed.
On a day like Monday, when temperatures are expected to be so torrid, the Woodland Hills Urgent Care Center starts running the air conditioning early in the morning, said Boris Vaisman, 40, a family-practice doctor who, together with his mother, Sofia Vaisman, staffs the clinic.
In addition to keeping the temperature low, Vaisman and his staff were focused on keeping their patients well hydrated.
“As soon as they check in, it’s, ‘Hi, how are you, do you need any water?’” he said.
Vaisman didn’t expect to see a huge increase in patients due to the heat. “I mean, we’re in Woodland Hills -- It’s not unusual for summer to be really, really warm.”
What he did expect was an increase in no-shows.
“People just stay home,” he said. “They don’t want to leave the house.”
While Vaisman expected patients to cancel their appointments, he said his staff had procedures in place to check on vulnerable patients.
“If someone misses an appointment on days when it’s exceptionally hot, we’re gonna call and check in to make sure everything’s OK,” he said.
In Palm Springs, the air conditioning in some cars strained to keep the interior cool. Alfonso Silva, 34, and his colleague Moises Carrillo, 50, managed to find a patch of shade behind their trucks Monday morning.
“This is my second time here. Last time it was 95 degrees,” said Carrillo. “But with today reaching 120 degrees, honestly, it’s just sinking in.”
Carrillo chuckled as he placed his hands in his pockets. Sweat dripped from his forehead.
“The necessity to pay bills and rent compels me to work today, hot or not,” he added. “Otherwise I’d stay home.”
The men will be spending most of their day on the road, driving 20 miles from Palm Springs to Cabazon to drop off grounded-up asphalt at a recycling site.
“You got some AC, some iced water and maybe a soda later at a gas station, it will be fine,” Carrillo said.
Silva looked at his friend.
“This truck doesn’t have AC.”
Asked who was going to drive it, Silva pointed to himself.
“I’ll have to do what the fishes do when they’re out of the water,” he said, opening his mouth to mimic a fish trying to breathe. “You just have to deal with it. You got to tough it out.”
Silva said one time he was at a job site in La Quinta where it was 122 degrees.
Carrillo said when he woke up Monday morning and drove to pick up his truck at 7 a.m. it was already hot.
A few yards away, Ramon Vela, 48, of Los Angeles and his son, Jesse, pulled into the Palm Springs Visitors Center.
Vela said he and his son arrived Sunday in Palm Springs. They came to the center to find things to do that didn’t require being outdoors too much.
“Typically we’d go hiking but it’s too hot,” he said. “He wants to do stuff but I tell him, no, man, you gotta respect nature.”
He said they have been cranking the AC at their hotel room and swam in the pool to stay cool, but even the pool is not guaranteed to cool you off.
“The pool gets hot later on,” Vela said. “It’s like swimming in hot tea.”
Others actually drove down to Palm Springs precisely to experience a peak heat wave moment. Just M. Love, 33, and his family came from Whittier “to enjoy the miserable heat, go for a swim and do a little shopping.”
Sipping an ice cold drink at a Starbucks, he and his family said they were enjoying the very, very … very dry heat.
“It’s hot as hell,” Love said just before noon. “And it’s not 2 or 3 yet.”
Though temperatures are expected to drop slightly on Tuesday, the humidity is going to climb as an onshore breeze sweeps over the area, said Hoxsie.
“It’ll feel extra miserable,” she quipped.
The heat wave set in over the weekend, when temperature records were broken in several areas across Southern California.
On Sunday, temperatures hit triple digits in several valley and inland area cities, including 106 degrees in Pasadena and Lancaster, sending residents to air-conditioned shops and movie theaters as fire officials kept a wary eye on the forecast, worried that dry, gusty winds would make already-ripe fire conditions more dangerous.
The warnings were well-founded. On Sunday, three firefighters suffered heat exhaustion battling the Sherpa fire -- which required some crews to hike up to three miles into dense vegetation in the Santa Ynez Mountains to get ahead of the flames and set up defenses, said Lee Beyer of the U.S. Forest Service.
Firefighters have shored up defenses along the blaze’s western and northern faces, leaving it to spread mostly to the east, deeper into Los Padres National Forest, Beyer said. Though crews have continued to encounter the infamous warming “sundowner” winds that blast downhill toward the ocean, defenses are set up in most places to prevent the flames from spreading back toward homes. The fire is mostly driven by topography at this point, he said.
The heat on Monday is compounded by gusty winds and low humidity, which creates dangerous red flag conditions that turn the foothills from Ventura and Los Angeles counties to San Bernardino County into kindling.
“We’re still in June. We have a lot of fire season ahead of us and things are only going to continue to get drier,” Beyer said.
Sweltering temperatures across Southern California prompted calls Monday for electricity customers to reduce their energy use to help avoid strain on a system already weakened by the troubled Aliso Canyon natural gas storage plant.
Utility companies urged their residential customers to voluntarily delay washing clothes and dishes until bedtime and to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees or higher. In addition, the power companies asked business customers also to voluntarily suspend unnecessary daytime operations such as production line work until nightfall.
The so-called “flex alert” initiated by the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s electric grid, ran from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“We’re doing everything we can to reduce the load,” Ronald Nichols, president of Southern California Edison. “It’s something that we’re closely monitoring.”
Nichols said there were a small number of outages Monday of about 10,000 to 20,000 of Edison’s customers, but there was no expectation of forced rolling blackouts.
To help manage available power, Edison and other utilities also initiated other energy saving programs Monday, called “demand response.”
Most of the programs that went into effect Monday were voluntary. Business and residential customers who enroll in the programs can earn credits on their bills by agreeing to reduce their electricity usage during periods of high electricity use.
The programs tapped for Monday’s high temperatures were largely voluntary, though customers enrolled in some programs can agree to have service interrupted by the utility when electricity use is high.
“We are certainly watching temperatures,” said Lynsey Paulo, a spokeswoman for Pacific Gas & Electric, which asked its customers to save energy, even the higher temperatures were south of its service area. “We are encouraging our customers in Northern California … to prepare for the heat now.”
This round of high temperatures are expected to be short-lived, but it still was a test of how prepared the utilities are to handle summer demand for electricity.
Part of the concern raised by Cal-ISO is that natural gas supplies used as fuel for many power generators in the Los Angeles area may be tight during this heat event because of limited operations at Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.
The California Public Utilities Commission and other state energy agencies have warned that because of the lack of operations at the Aliso Canyon field, the state’s largest natural gas storage facility, Southern California could face blackouts during as many as 14 days this summer.
In May, the commission gave Edison approval to purchase battery storage for electricity to help avoid strain on the electric system.
Nichols said Edison plans to have the batteries available next summer, though some could come online as early as the end of this year.
For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.
MORE LOCAL NEWS
3:44 p.m. Updated with information about power grid.
1:30 p.m.: This post has been updated with Palm Springs’ record-breaking temperature.
12:17 p.m.: This post has been updated with additional information.
11:49 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from Woodland Hills.
11:00 a.m.: This post has been updated with more comments from Palm Springs.
This story was originally posted at 10:19 a.m.
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