California heatwave ebbs after claiming 25 lives

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – At least 25 deaths were blamed on an excessive eight-day heatwave in Southern California that finally started to cool on Wednesday.

Temperatures in inland and mountainous areas of Los Angeles dropped by about 20 degrees, bringing most places down below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) for the first time in a week.

Power was being restored gradually to some 55,000 people some of whom sweltered without air conditioning, lights or working refrigerators for two days or more because of record demand placed on the grid, power officials said.

Fifteen of the suspected heat-related deaths reported by coroners were in Los Angeles County. Autopsies will determine the exact cause of death.

They included a couple in their 80s who were trying to keep costs down by switching off the air conditioning in their apartment. Firefighters who found the bodies said the temperature inside was at least 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius).

Some others, including at least one homeless man, were found dead in their cars over the long, hot holiday weekend. A 26 year-old man was found dead in a Los Angeles canyon after becoming separated from friends while riding his dirt bike, the coroner’s office said.

Seven deaths were reported in Imperial County, two in San Bernardino County and one in Riverside County where temperatures hit triple digits for several days in a row.

Temperatures are expected to drop further back to seasonal norms over the next two days.

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