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California hiker dies as record heat wave fuels massive wildfires

Los Angeles County authorities announced Santa Monica Mountains trails will be closed this long weekend after a woman died hiking during California's record-breaking heat wave, as wildfires continue to ravage much of the state.

What's happening: Red flag warnings were issued across California. The National Weather Service said "very hot and unstable conditions will bring a significant threat of large plume dominated fires." At least two people were severely hurt and 10 others had moderate injuries after becoming trapped by the rapidly growing Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest Saturday, per AP.

Dozens of evacuees are evacuated to safety on a Cal Guard Chinook last night after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. Photo courtesy California National Guard.

— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) September 6, 2020

Temperature records were broken or tied across California this weekend — including in Woodland Hills at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley, which reached 121 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the NWS said.

  • The NWS warned the "critically dry fuels will result in a greater threat of fire ignitions as well as rapid fire growth."
  • The weather in California is part of a "dangerous heat wave" under way across much of the Western U.S. through Labor Day, the NWS notes, and "critical fire weather conditions are forecast through midweek for portions of the West."
  • The record temperatures come less than a month after another heat wave saw the thermometer in Death Valley, Southern California, hit 130°F.

Wind warnings were in place for counties including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Ventura.

By the numbers: Firefighters have responded to 7,448 incidents this year, with seven fatalities confirmed as blazes burned across 1,848,311 acres destroying or damaging 3,855 structures, according to CalFire.

The big picture: Scores of fires continue to burn across the state, with the LNU Lightning Complex Fire burning across 375,209 acres, which was 91% on Sunday.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions. President Trump has issued a major disaster declaration for the state.
  • Newsom also made an emergency proclamation Sunday for the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa due to the Creek Fire; for San Bernardino County due to the El Dorado Fire; and for San Diego County due to the Valley Fire, which has burned 5,350 acres and was 1% contained Sunday.
  • Other notable fires include the he SCU Lightning Complex Fire, which has burned 375209 acres and was 92% contained.
  • The Creek Fire has razed 45,500 acres and was 0% contained.

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Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

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