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Heat wave blamed for 13 deaths in Texas spreads eastward

AP – Scorching heat blamed for at least 13 deaths in Texas and another in Louisiana blanketed more of the Southeast in the United States (US) on Wednesday, stretching government warnings of dangerous, triple-digit temperatures eastward into Mississippi and Tennessee.

California, meanwhile, was facing its first major heat wave of the year.

The National Weather Service warned that the dry, hot, windy conditions were ripe for dangerous fires in parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Mid-week temperatures were forecast to surpass 38 degrees Celsius (°C) in much of the Southeast and high humidity was expected to push heat index values above 46°C in some areas.

Lingering power outages after weekend storms compounded the heat-related misery in Arkansas. More than 10,000 residents were still without power in the central part of the state. In Cabot, northeast of Little Rock, a local senior center provided cool air and a place to charge cellphones and tablets for those without electricity.

PHOTO: AP

“Usually I just come at noon for the meal,” Clint Hickman, still waiting for his power to come back on, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It’s kind of nice to have a little cool air, so I came a little earlier.”

A park in Pearl River, Louisiana, featuring water fountains and overhead sprinklers for children to play in was a welcome respite for Victoria Lee, who was there with her small children.

“I have outdoor kids,” she said. “They don’t like being inside. So, when we’re at home and they’re outside and they’re sweaty, they’re just miserable all the time. So this just makes it a lot easier.”

Among the heat’s casualties was a man who died late on Sunday in Shreveport, Louisiana, the second heat-related death in the state in an unusually warm June.

The 49-year-old from neighbouring Bossier City had been found lying on a sidewalk in Shreveport, where Sunday’s temperature hit 36°C.

The death of a 62-year-old woman on June 21 in Keithville also was blamed on heat. Relatives found her after she had spent several days without electricity because of earlier severe storms, the Caddo Parish Coroner’s Office said.

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