Two firefighters dead in plane crash during Western US heat wave
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The Arizona Bureau of Land Management paid tribute to two wildland firefighters who died in a plane crash while performing aerial reconnaissance flying over the fire in Cedar Basin, a wildfire caused by lightning.
"Our hearts are heavy tonight with sincere condolences to families, loved ones and firefighters affected by this tragic aviation accident", the agency said.
The accident occurred at around noon local time (19:00 GMT) on Saturday near the small community of Wikieup.
On the weekend, people were evacuated from their homes when wildfires spread through parts of the Sierra Nevada forest region. I
One fire more than doubled in size between Friday and Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
New heat wave threatens the United States
The National Weather Service (NWS) warned before last weekend of "dangerously high temperatures". On Saturday, over 47 degrees was measured in Las Vegas, which is almost record temperature for the city: 117 fahrenheit, equivalent to 47.2 degrees, according to CNN.
On the west coast of the United States, Saturday was an extremely hot day in many areas, often reaching temperatures among the warmest ever recorded.
In Death Valley, California, a desert area known for extreme heat, 130 fahrenheit (54.4 C) was recorded on Saturday - two degrees from the world record from 1913.
In several states, such as California, Oregon and Idaho, the NWS has been sending out health warnings for heat-related deaths. The heat, which coincides with severe drought, has already claimed the lives of at least 116 people in Oregon alone.
June was already record hot - now July is starting to break heat records as well
June was already record hot, and the heat wave that is now sweeping across the country makes beginning July the warmest since temperatures started being recorded 127 years ago, according to the weather authority NOAA.
The heat and drought have led to a large number of forest fires in western North America. In the Canadian community of Lytton, where the record temperature was recently measured at 49.6 degrees, residents were able to return on Friday for the first time to what remained of their home.s On June 30, they were forced to flee on very short notice from a forest fire that destroyed nearly 90 percent of the city.
Over 200 wildfires continue to burn in the Western Canadian province of British Columbia.
In combination with the fires and heat, parts of California have also experienced strong winds. Last week, the heat contributed to a fire tornado that erupted outside the town of Tennant in northern California.