Southwest US states bake, wildfire threatens Arizona towns


LAS VEGAS — The Southwest U.S. continued to bake Saturday, and weather forecasters kept warnings in effect for excessive heat in Arizona, Nevada and desert areas, at least through the weekend.

High temperature marks didn’t fall Saturday, but Phoenix reached a sweltering high of 115 degrees (46 C) for the day and Las Vegas hit 111 degrees (44 C). Both were 3 degrees shy of records for the date, forecasters said.

Predicted highs on Sunday of 116 degrees (46.6 C) in Phoenix and 113 degrees (45 C) in Las Vegas were expected to fall short of high marks for June 20, the National Weather Service said.

But Phoenix did set a record Saturday for consecutive 115-degree (46 C) days, meteorologist Isaac Smith said, and Sunday could extend the record to six days.

Neither city was expected to reach record highs on Sunday of 118 degrees (48 C) in Phoenix and 117 degrees (47.2 C) in Las Vegas.

In Arizona, fire officials blamed extreme heat for the spread of a wildfire that started late Wednesday and grew by Saturday to nearly 27 square miles (70 square kilometers) near Strawberry and Pine, mountain towns east of Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Evacuations were ordered Friday while aircraft and about 100 firefighters fought flames in rugged pinyon juniper, chaparral, brush and cactus. Officials reported zero containment and scheduled a virtual community meeting late Saturday on Facebook to update residents on efforts to suppress the fire.

Smith, in Phoenix, and meteorologist Andy Gorelow in Las Vegas said temperatures should ease through the coming week but could again top 110 degrees (43.3 C) in the region next weekend.

Las Vegas tied a record Saturday for the highest low daily temperature, at 88 degrees (31 C), and Phoenix notched 91 degrees (32.7 C) to eclipse its so-called high-minimum mark of 86 degrees (30 C) set in 1959.

Excessive heat warnings remained in effect until late Sunday in the region, also including nearby California and Utah desert areas.

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