The Fourth of July got off to a hot start in Fresno, with the 80-degree low making it the second-warmest morning on record for the date, according to the National Weather Service.
The highest recorded low temperature for Fresno was 81 degrees set in 2001. The normal low temperature for July 4 is a comparatively cool 67 degrees.
And after Thursday's hot start, it only got hotter. The high reached 108 degrees, four degrees shy of the record set in 1889, meteorologist Jim Dudley said.
Valley residents tried to escape the extreme heat by taking dips in nearby rivers and lakes, but that turned deadly for two men at Lake Yosemite near Merced. According to investigators, the two men drowned after jumping off the lake's pier.
On the Kings River, Fresno County sheriff's deputies had to rescue another pair of men trapped under a tree where the river meets Goodfellow Avenue south of Sanger.
The high temperatures took a toll on firefighters. Near Huron, firefighters took breaks and rotated shifts as they battled a 62-acre vegetation fire. Fresno County Cal Fire Capt. Ryan Michaels said a rehab unit was assigned to the fire to keep crews well hydrated with ice-cold drinks, cool towels and misters.
Although the triple-digit heat will continue at least one more day, the mercury is nosing downward, Dudley said.
"We're going from extreme heat to more normal heat," he said. "The extreme stuff is on the way out for now."
Today's high is forecast for 105 with a low of 78 in the early morning. Temperatures are expected to drop below the century mark for the first time in more than a week Saturday, when the high is forecast at 99.
That's good news for the Kings County Fair, which opens today and operates through Monday.
"We'll experience a cooling trend, if you'd call it that," Dudley said, noting that temperatures are forecast to plateau at 100 for the next few days.
On Sunday, temperatures are expected to reach 101 and will remain in the triple digits through Wednesday at the earliest.
Lows are also expected to return to near-normal temperatures with mornings forecast near the mid- to upper 60s, Dudley said.
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