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California has been hit with its 1st — but not last — major heat wave of the year

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

It's hot in the western U.S. - hotter than normal for this time of year. Through the next few days, many parts of California are expected to see temperatures well above 100 degrees. Saul Gonzalez of member station KQED reports from Los Angeles.

SAUL GONZALEZ, BYLINE: How hot is it? Well, let's let Alex Tardy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, explain.

ALEX TARDY: We've had some prior heatwaves this year, but not as intense as this one or as long duration.

GONZALEZ: Experts are already advising people not to leave their children and pets in cars and to avoid strenuous outdoor physical activity during the hottest times of the day.

TARDY: So these are significant temperatures, and these are temperatures that are dangerous to everyone if you don't take precautions.

GONZALEZ: Some cities, like Sacramento and Palm Springs, have opened air-conditioned public cooling centers. And this heat wave comes as California fire officials sound the alarm about yet another year of extreme wildfire danger - danger that will likely last for months.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DARYL OSBY: This is my 11th year as the fire chief. And so 9 out of the 11 years, I feel like a scratched record.

GONZALEZ: Daryl Osby is chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He spoke at a press conference yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OSBY: I've said the same thing - this year it's going to be hotter, and it's going to be drier leading into the fall, when we have our wind-driven fires here in Southern California.

GONZALEZ: Like much of the rest of the baking West, California fire officials say they're staffing up and working hard to identify and clear flammable brush and undergrowth. These high temperatures are happening as California endures its third consecutive year of drought, with little to no rainfall in the forecast. This month, mandatory water restrictions kicked in for more than 6 million people in Southern California. Residents are required to limit their outdoor water use to once or twice a week or face possible fines.

For NPR News, I'm Saul Gonzalez in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Saul Gonzalez