California hiker dies as record heat wave fuels massive wildfires

Los Angeles County authorities announced Santa Monica Mountains trails will be closed this long weekend after a woman died hiking during California’s record-breaking heat wave, as wildfires continue to ravage much of the state.

What’s happening: Red flag warnings were issued across California, as scores of blazes burn nearly 2 million acres amid hot, dry conditions. Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s biggest utility, warned that it might cut power to some 103,000 customers Monday “to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines.”

Temperature records were broken or tied across California Sunday, including in Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley, which hit 121 degrees Fahrenheit — the highest temperature recorded in Los Angeles County.

A “smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during a gender reveal party” caused the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, which has razed 7,050 acres and was 5% contained Sunday, Cal Fire said.

207 people trapped by the rapidly growing Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest Saturday were flown to safety, per AP. At least two of those rescued were severely hurt and 10 others had moderate injuries.

What to expect: The National Weather Service said “very hot and unstable conditions will bring a significant threat of large plume dominated fires,” while “critically dry fuels will result in a greater threat of fire ignitions as well as rapid fire growth.”

  • Wind warnings were in place for counties including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Ventura. The weather in California is part of a “dangerous heat wave” under way across much of the Western U.S. through Labor Day, the NWS notes, and “critical fire weather conditions are forecast through midweek for portions of the West.”

Of note: The record temperatures come less than a month after another heat wave saw the thermometer in Death Valley, Southern California, hit 130°F.

By the numbers: Firefighters have responded to 7,448 incidents this year, with seven fatalities confirmed as blazes burned across 1,848,311 acres — destroying or damaging 3,855 structures, according to CalFire.

The big picture: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions. President Trump has issued a major disaster declaration for the state.

  • Newsom made an emergency proclamation Sunday for the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa due to the Creek Fire; for San Bernardino County due to the El Dorado Fire; and for San Diego County due to the Valley Fire, which has burned 5,350 acres and was 1% contained Sunday.

The state of play: Per Cal Fire, other notable wildfires that have prompted evacuation orders include the SCU Lightning Complex Fire — which has burned 375209 acres and was 92% contained by Sunday.

  • The LNU Lightning Complex Fire has destroyed 375,209 acres and 91% of it was under control.
  • The CZU Lightning Complex (including the Warnella Fire) blaze has razed 86,509 acres and was 72% contained.
  • The massive Butte/Tehama/Glenn Lightning Complex (Tehama/Glenn Zone) Fire was 55% contained overall after burning across 66,309 acres.
  • The Creek Fire has razed 45,500 acres and was still burning out of control over Sunday night.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with more details on the fires, the weather and to include PG&E’s announcement.

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