Los Angeles County authorities blocked trails in the Santa Monica Mountains after a woman died hiking in a record-breaking heatwave and scorched California wildfires.
The woman, whose name has not yet been released, was hiking with a friend on a trail near the town of Calabasas on Saturday afternoon when she felt sick and collapsed, Juanita Navarro, assistant sheriff of Los Angeles, said on Sunday.
The cause and manner of death were unknown, but no bad game was suspected, Navarro said. Malibu Search and Rescue, a unit in the sheriff’s department, said it responded to multiple heat-related rescue operations on Saturday.
The National Weather Service documented a number of record temperatures on Sunday. In the Woodland Hills north of Calabasas, the mercury reached a sultry 1
As temperatures rose, the operator of the state power grid warned of possible power outages for millions of customers from 3 p.m. – the second time in less than a month that a heatwave triggered the warnings.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged residents to turn off the electricity sucker, turn down their thermostats, and turn off additional lights.
“We need every Californian to save energy,” he said. “Please do your part.”
The weather service issued its highest fire alarm – a red flag warning – for the mountains of counties Los Angeles and Ventura at 6 p.m. Low humidity, gusty winds and hot temperatures would increase the risk of “extreme fire behavior,” said the service.
Much of northern California’s interior counties also came under a red flag warning.
The warnings were issued as firefighters continued to fight massive flames across the state. In the Sierra National Forest, dozens of campers were rescued Saturday after a fire that started the day before when they jumped a river and held them at their campsite.
Footage from the Mammoth Pool campsite showed the entire surrounding forest on fire.
The California National Guard who rescued the campers tweeted a photo of dozens of evacuees aboard a Chinook helicopter on Sunday.
The fire, which was 0 percent contained on Sunday afternoon, had grown to 45,500 acres.
Daniel Swain, a climatologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, said the fast-spreading fire was so intense that it created its own thunderstorms with lightning, wind and no rain. A rare fire tornado is also possible, he said.
Swain said the only thing preventing more cities across the state from hitting record temperatures is “the thick cloud of smoke from explosive forest fires.”
“Also,” he tweeted, “I expect CA to set a new record for modern acres by … Monday.”
According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, more than 1.8 million acres were burned across the state this year.
Two of the largest fires in California history began after the so-called “Lightning Siege of 2020,” when nearly 11,000 lightning bolts struck northern California in three days. As of Sunday, the two fires totaled more than 770,000 acres and were both nearly contained.
Scientists have linked the state’s increasingly intense wildfire seasons in part to climate change. A paper co-authored by Swain earlier this year found that above-average temperatures are likely to stay higher longer, well into fall, and possibly extend the California forest fire season to Thanksgiving.
The Associated Press contributed.