LOS ANGELES (AP) — The World Series got underway Tuesday evening with the temperature over 100 degrees as Southern California baked in a fall heatwave that shattered weather records and had firefighters chasing every outbreak of flames to prevent another wildfire calamity in the state.
Downtown Los Angeles topped out at 104 degrees in the early afternoon, toppling the 108-year-old record of 99 for the date. By game time, mercifully, much of Dodger Stadium was shaded from the setting sun and the temperature dropped to 96 within the hour and was expected to be in the low 80s before the last inning.
The day started extra hot and dry as winds, known as the Santa Anas, kept overnight temperatures in the 80s and 90s in some areas following a siege of triple-digit heat on Monday. Relative humidity levels also stayed low, leaving vegetation susceptible to fire.
Craig Digure, 46, who has lived in Los Angeles for 11 months, found it was just too hot to sun himself at Echo Park Lake near downtown.
“It’s kind of crazy. I’m from Minnesota so I’m not used to this in October. It’s 40 degrees back home, almost ready to snow,” he said. “I thought summer was over. But it’s just not seeming to end.”
Even proximity to the ocean was no relief: Surfing mecca Huntington Beach also surpassed 100 degrees.
Southern California firefighters scrambled throughout the day to put out fires before the region’s notoriously hot and dry Santa Ana winds could whip them into conflagrations like the infernos that devastated parts of Northern California earlier this month.
At midafternoon, fire erupted in thick vegetation of rural Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles and spread over 150 acres (60.7 hectares) near the tiny community of Casitas Springs.
More than 200 firefighters were attacking the flames, aided by bulldozers, air tankers and helicopters as night fell.
Earlier, Los Angeles fire crews jumped on several small fires that erupted along the north edge of the city as gusts blasted through nearby mountains. One fire brought morning rush hour traffic to a halt on the State Route 118 freeway until it was extinguished.
The strong offshore winds were being caused by unseasonably strong surface high pressure over western Montana and a trough of low pressure along the California coast, the National Weather Service said.
As air flowed from the interior of the West and across Southern California, some gusts were hitting 60 mph (96 kph), the service said.
Many schools were put on short-day schedules because of the high heat.
Santa Ana winds can occur any time of year in Southern California but are common in the fall. They have been involved in some of the most destructive wildfires that have hit the region because of the high wind speeds and extreme dryness.
The heat wave was expected to continue Wednesday with a possible third day of records.
AP photographer Damian Dovarganes and reporter Christopher Weber contributed to this report.