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Death Valley is set to reach 127F on Monday – the hottest temperature recorded

Extreme and dangerous heat is set to strike parts of the western United States on Friday with the furnace-like temperatures expected to last well into the middle of next week.

34 million people across California and the southwest are under excessive heat watches and warnings.

Record highs could be set in the cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson and Salt Lake City. 

Even Death Valley, California in the Mojave Desert, which is renowned for its blistering temperatures is set to break a new record for the time of year, with 126F forecast for Sunday and 127F on Monday. 

It would be the hottest temperature recorded so late in the year and the place still holds the record for hottest air temperature ever recorded which was 134F set in July 1913.  

The soaring temperatures coincide with a massive bush fire that has devoured more than 10,000 acres in southern California, causing mandatory evacuations as multiple agencies have fought to quell the blaze. 

Firefighters fought the intense flames of the Lake Fire as aircrafts dropped water and retardant to assist in the combating of the fire.  

Flames raced across ridges and steep slopes, including in some areas that had not burned since 1968, fire officials said.  

The fire covered 10,000 acres on Thursday and was 0 percent contained. 

‘Although we’re showing 0% containment at this time and 10,500 acres, some tremendous work was done last night overnight in the area around Lake Hughes and Pine Canyon, where the fire crossed Pine Canyon Road last night,’ Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Robert Garcia said during the 9am Thursday briefing. 

‘It was a tremendous firefight to protect lives and property in that area.’   

By Thursday night, the blaze still threatened more than 5,400 homes and had charged through 17 square miles of brush and forest land. 

The Los Angeles County Fire Department said that 50 fire engines, 10 battalion chiefs and 210 firefighters were responding ‘as part of a massive resources request to bolster structure protection.’ 

Crews have been assisting from Los Angeles, Culver City Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Ventura County.   

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.  

Light winds and scattered thundershowers early in the day helped firefighters tame the flames somewhat but Friday’s forecast called for hot, dry weather with ‘near critical’ fire conditions because of possible gusty winds, a fire update said Thursday night.

‘This will be a major fire for several days,’ said Chief Robert Garcia with the U.S. Forest Service.

About 100 rural homes were evacuated in the Lake Hughes area of the Angeles National Forest, some 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

Preliminary damage assessments found that at least three structures burned, but authorities warned the toll would likely be higher.

Last month the official weather station in the Death Valley area recorded 128F, although a photo taken at the aptly named Furnace Creek Visitor Center read 129F.

Closer to the coast, Los Angeles will bake under temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s through the weekend. 

The heat could be made all the more oppressive because of higher than normal humidity, according to NBC News. 

‘Usually, California heat waves mean a dry heat, which is a saving grace. But what’s unusual here are the remnants of Hurricane Elida, which are adding significantly more moisture into the atmosphere and will make California much muggier,’ said climate scientist at the University of California, Daniel Swain.

‘The extra humidity makes a big difference in a bad way, from a public health perspective,’ Swain noted.

Los Angeles will bake under temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s through the weekend.

‘If you have to do your workout outside, do it early in the day,’ NBC Los Angeles meteorologist Belen De Leon said Thursday. 

Las Vegas, Nevada is also likely to see temperatures rise to 113F by Sunday. In neighboring Arizona, Phoenix may see temperatures soar to 115F.  

The daily low temperature in Phoenix has not dipped below 90F for 20 days this year, shattering the old record of 15 which was set in 2003 and 2013.

 

Fires have been devastating the southern California area, with one that occurred just south of Lake Isabella on Tuesday resulting in the death of a fireman.  

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