Fall heat wave building across California, raising fire danger in Los Angeles area

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Women shade themselves from the sun in the Chinatown section of downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, Oct 2, 2014. Rising temperatures, falling humidity levels and Santa Ana winds increased fire danger in drought-stricken Southern California on Thursday, and forecasters said the fall heat wave would push temperatures well above normal from San Diego to San Francisco. (AP Photo/ Nick Ut)

LOS ANGELES — Record-breaking heat hit California on Thursday as the state prepared for a sweltering weekend marked by Santa Ana winds and extreme fire danger.

New highs for the date were set Thursday in Long Beach, Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, where temperatures hit the mid- to high 90s, the National Weather Service reported.

Temperatures could top 100 in the valleys and lower mountain areas into Sunday, and the weather service issued heat advisories through Friday for above-normal temperatures as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area, with 80s to 90s at the coast and triple digits inland.

The weather service also issued red flag warnings of fire danger through Friday for some areas because of heat, low humidity and Santa Ana winds gusting to 20 mph.

The weather service said the heat stemmed from a ridge of high pressure building over the region. It was not expected to begin breaking down until Sunday.

The average high temperature in downtown Los Angeles in October is 79 degrees. It hit 96 Thursday.

While forest fires burned throughout the summer in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere in Northern California, the southwestern portion of the state has not had widespread wildfire conditions since early in the year.

Fall, however, is usually when the south sees the worst blazes, typically fanned by gusty Santa Ana winds.

The Los Angeles Fire Department placed additional firefighting resources in brush areas Thursday. The deployment was anticipated to last 24 hours but would be re-evaluated depending on weather conditions, the department said.

But the city did not impose special restrictions that ban parking in areas of narrow roads, tight turns and key intersections where access by firefighting vehicles could be impeded.

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