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While parts of the state battle fires, Southern California finds different ways to get through the heat wave

They said it could break records, and the heat wave that enveloped Southern California on Friday didn’t disappoint.

Even dogs had to seek relief wherever they could find it as downtown Los Angeles matched its record high of 96 degrees for the day and firefighters worked to contain brush fires along the Central Coast. More of the same is expected Saturday, before a reprieve on Sunday, forecasters said.

“We’ve just got to make it through tomorrow,” said National Weather Service Senior Forecaster Andrew Rorke on Friday.

Some people headed to neighborhood parks and pools to stay cool, while others who had to be out in the sun improvised.

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As temperatures in West Hills neared 110 degrees, a group of women stopped to rest after several hours spent cleaning houses.

Sitting on a bench on Valley Circle Boulevard, they gulped soda and snacked on Mexican dishes from a food truck parked nearby.

Maria Rodriguez said she was trying to make make sure that her co-workers at the cleaning service stayed hydrated between jobs. Not all of the homeowners had left the air conditioning on, she said, so the women tried to speed up their work.

“You have them … lifting, bending, focusing on their job to make sure they do everything,” Rodriguez said. “They know their routines, but at the same time [they are] pushing to get it done faster.”

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In Central California, the Alamo fire — which started Thursday — grew from 500 acres to more than 3,000 acres Friday afternoon along the border between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, threatening a number of isolated homes and prompting a frantic response by firefighters from across Southern California.

Officials said the fire moved at an “extreme rate of spread” in just a few hours Friday evening, forcing evacuation orders amid 90-degree heat and low humidity.

“Yesterday as the sun went down, we threw everything we had at it from the air, held it to 175 acres,” said Chris Elms, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “As the sun came up, temperatures went through the roof.”

A second blaze, known as the Tower fire, was started by a car fire along the 101 Freeway near Cuesta Grade in San Luis Obispo County, closing all but one northbound lane at the site. By mid-evening, the fire was holding at 60 acres, but firefighters planned to work through the night toward full containment, authorities said.

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Rebecka Garcia, 9, with coaching from her mother, Irma Monterroso, works on her backstroke at Reseda Park Pool.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

For firefighters and others who work outdoors, Friday was a challenge.

About 10:30 a.m. in Lake Balboa, Gaudencio Rosas, 32, wiped sweat from his face as he mowed a lawn. He wore a straw hat to ward off the sun, and said that he drinks Gatorade throughout the day to stay hydrated.

“The whole day I’m in the sun … this is a hard job,” said Rosas, adding that after over a dozen years as a gardener, he’s become used to working through the summer heat.

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But a couple of blocks away at Anthony C. Beilenson Park, children took time out to play and feed bread to ducks on the lake.

Mutti Wolfe and her 2-year-old grandson, Matthew, sported streaks of sunscreen on their faces as they sat on a blanket by the playground. “My grandson wanted to go to the park and playground, that’s why I did it,” she said of the decision to be outside — while Matthew played with an ice pack.

Nearby, Florita Cordoba of Van Nuys said that despite the heat, she had promised her 6-year-old son, Angel, that they would go to the park right after his morning summer school class.

“Inside the house it’s also hot,” she said, holding an orange Popsicle. “Here, there are at least trees, and the wind blows a bit.”

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Reseda Park Pool at midday was filled with children practicing dives, taking swimming lessons and splashing in the water. At the shallow end of the pool, Irma Monterroso instructed her daughter Rebecka Garcia, 9, to keep her legs straight while doing the backstroke.

“We’re trying to stay active on a very hot day, which is difficult,” Monterroso said.

Staying active was not a problem for Charles Rahim, a supervisor at the Calabasas Auto Spa car wash. So every 15 minutes, he said, he was soaking a cloth with cool water and placing it under his hat.

“That’s how I survive all day in the sun,” Rahim said. “It’s the beginning of another summer. This is not just temporary. I’m going to be hot.”

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But nice gestures from customers, he said, make things easier. The day before, a regular dropped off two 48-packs of water bottles for the workers. They were going through the second pack Friday, he said.

Woodland Hills’ high of 110 broke the old record for the day of 108, set in 2006. At 6 p.m. it was still 103 degrees. Gina Holguin, standing in her front yard with her three dachshunds, said it was 80 degrees inside her house when she got home from work.

“It’s kind of like being in an oven,” said Holguin, a social worker. “The dry heat, it just makes you tired.”

Concerned about the health of her dogs, she was taking them in and out of the house.

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“I wet them down, let them dry off, take them back in and do it again,” she said. “They can only be out here for so long.”

leila.miller@latimes.com

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Times staff writer Gale Holland contributed to this report

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