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Heat wave blamed in 12 deaths

first_imgIn L.A., officials urged residents to keep conserving energy. “Look, this is hot weather, and some of the hottest weather we’ve had in a very long time, … Death Valley-like numbers,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference. “No step to save energy can be too small.” Still, no energy bill can be worth dying for, said city officials, who offered to assist residents in any heat emergency. “If you are someone who is concerned about turning on your air conditioning because of the cost, please know the Department of Water and Power will work with you to do a payment plan,” said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, in whose district the Menahems died. “Your life is more important. It’s important for you to be able to turn on that air conditioning, particularly if your apartment or home has gotten to an extreme level of heat.” Coroner’s investigators have no way of knowing how many of the 12 deaths will ultimately be attributed to the heat. Despite investigating dozens of cases suspected of being heat-related last summer, the hottest on record in Los Angeles County, medical examiners ultimately attributed only two of them to the heat. Over the weekend, the Los Angeles County Fire Department received 1,600 calls a day – 30 percent above normal – each one related to the heat, officials say. Firefighters were acting on a tip from neighbors when they broke down the door of an elderly couple’s garden apartment on the second floor in the 5100 block of Laurel Canyon Boulevard, department spokesman Humphrey said. The man, identified by coroner’s officials as Menahem, sat slumped in his wheelchair, according to news reports. His wife, whose name is being withheld pending notification of relatives, was lying nearby. A fan hummed, Humphrey said. A west-facing window was open. The A/C, when turned on, worked perfectly. “It was hot, sweltering inside, like a furnace,” Humphrey said. “He was deceased; his wife was nearby, dead.” The deaths were “a reminder how quickly our elderly can succumb to these conditions,” Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said. “In this instance, a nephew had checked on them the day before and had advised them to keep the fans and air conditioning on. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and it took their lives.” In some of the other deaths: Coroner’s Capt. Ed Winter said a man was found dead from apparent heat-related causes at 8 p.m. Monday in a house in the 11000 block of Chandler Boulevard in North Hollywood. Just before 1 p.m. Sunday, the body of Linda Burkhart, 53, was found in a car she’d apparently been living in near a Goodwill store in Lancaster. A few minutes later, the body of Dorothy McGlothan, a woman in her 80s, was found in her Pasadena apartment. Across the region, power companies added extra crews to repair transformers pushed past their limits by 24-hour air conditioners. By midday Tuesday, Southern California Edison reported 29,000 outages. The L.A. Department of Water and Power reported outages to 30,000, or 2 percent of its customers. “It’s basically all hands on deck to repair the outages,” said Edison spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady, who reported widespread outages in Simi Valley. Both Edison and the DWP attributed the week of outages to increasing numbers of homes with central air conditioning, big-screen TVs and computers, and to appliances that draw power when not being used. “What we have is overtaxed infrastructure at the local level, or individual transformers at the poles,” said Kim Hughes, a DWP spokeswoman. “We’re burning out equipment.” The DWP reported it had 77 crews working to replace busted transformers and failed circuits. Of those, 15 are private crews called in to help speed repairs. Wary of unpredictable wind shifts, more than 1,000 firefighters battled two brush fires in northern Los Angeles County. The two blazes – one in Acton east of Santa Clarita, the other west of Lancaster in the Elizabeth Lake area – were partially contained Tuesday. A Metrolink line from Lancaster was temporarily shut down. Actress Tippi Hedren’s Shambala preserve in Soledad Canyon stood ready to evacuate its 69 lions, tigers and other wild felines – including two Bengals removed from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Flames had come within a few miles of the sanctuary, but retreated with the wind. Staff Writers Kerry Cavanaugh and Patricia Farrell Aidem contributed to this story. [email protected] (818) 713-3730 Cooling stations Residents can take a break from the sun at these cooling stations, open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. today. Residents can bring small dogs and cats with them to the centers, according to the city Department of Recreation and Parks. For more information on cooling centers, residents can call (888) LA-PARKS or go to www.laparks.org. These regional cooling stations also are open to residents, although hours vary: 7326 Jordan Ave., Canoga Park 8640 Fenwick Ave., Sunland 5040 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks 8956 Vanalden Ave., Northridge Antelope Valley Senior Center, 777 W. Jackman St., Lancaster, (661) 726-4400 Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 W. Avenue H, Lancaster, (661) 948-6060 City of Burbank, 1301 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, (818) 238-5357 Glendale Parks and Recreation, 201 E. Colorado St., Glendale, (818) 548-3775 Hart Park, 24151 N. San Fernando Road, Santa Clarita, (661) 222-7657 Organization for the Needs of the Elderly, 18255 Victory Blvd., Reseda, (818) 705-2345 Palmdale Senior Center, 1002 E. Avenue Q-12, Palmdale, (661) 267-5551 San Fernando Valley Service Center, 7555 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys, (818) 901-3501 Santa Clarita Valley Service Center, 24271 San Fernando Road, Newhall, (661) 254-0070160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALLEY VILLAGE – A fan whirred over the heads of 82-year-old Lugassi Max Menahem and his wife when firefighters found their heat-stricken bodies. Their apartment window was open, letting the 110-degree air in, and their working air conditioner was turned off. Menahem and his wife, discovered Sunday in Valley Village, were among a dozen residents believed to have died from the weeklong heat wave – which would be one of the biggest death tolls from the Los Angeles summer heat in recent memory. “We have had heat-related deaths in the summer months, but they are precious few,” said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey. “Because of our relatively low humidity, our heat index is relatively mild on an ongoing basis.” Fortunately, meteorologists say the heat wave should pass today. “Over,” declared Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. “For the Valley areas, we’ll be looking at mid-80s to mid-90s” through the weekend. The eight-day bake that shot thermometers in the San Fernando Valley to 112 degrees over the Labor Day weekend caused record power use; air conditioners strained transformers. On Tuesday, temperatures dropped below 100 degrees in some areas as power companies worked to restore juice to 60,000 homes and businesses throughout Southern California. Meanwhile, firefighters in Los Angeles County fought two fires – one west of Lancaster and the other near Santa Clarita – that have consumed 2,100 acres of parched brush in northern Los Angeles County. last_img

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