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Blistering heat wave to fuel wildfire threat across western US into next week

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A potentially life-threatening heat wave will continue to unfold across the western United States and raise the risk of wildfires into early next week.

A large dome of high pressure will stay parked over the region, pumping dry, hot air northward in the process. As a result, temperatures will soar to dangerous and record-shattering levels into Monday.

Locations along the Interstate-5 corridor from Oregon to California will continue to flirt with or exceed the 100-degree Fahrenheit mark into early next week, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski.

"Should Portland, Oregon, reach 100 F, it would be the second earliest 100-degree day on record," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun explained. "The earliest 100-degree day was on May 28, 1983."

Farther south, highs are expected to exceed 110 across the Desert Southwest. Highs in the 80s and 90s will be common elsewhere across the West.

Many may seek relief at the cooler beaches along the West Coast, where highs in the 60s and 70s will be more common.

"The [only] exception to this heat [wave] will be immediate coastal areas where the cool Pacific waters still have influence," AccuWeather Western U.S. Expert Ken Clark explained.

The blistering heat could be life threatening for residents who do not take necessary precautions.

If at all possible, outdoor activities should be confined to the early morning and late-evening hours. Strenuous activities should be held to a minimum to avoid heat-related illnesses.

In California, qualifying events at the state's track and field championship were pushed back to Friday evening to avoid the brunt of the heat. Final events are planned for Saturday evening.

Officials at Grand Canyon National Park are advising visitors to avoid hiking due to the excessive heat.

Anyone needing to go outdoors during the heat of the day should drink plenty of water, wear light-colored and loose-fitted clothing and take frequent breaks in the shade.

Those without air conditioning can seek relief from the extreme heat at local libraries, malls and designated cooling centers.

In addition to being a health hazard, the hot and dry conditions will elevate the threat for wildfires across the region.

Residents should properly discard matches or cigarettes and never leave a campfire unattended to prevent accidental fires.

The risk for wildfires will be especially high across the Sierra Nevada, where spotty dry thunderstorms could pop up on Sunday and Monday.

"Should any lightning bolts strike the dry ground, there is the potential for a wildfire to ignite," Rathbun warned.

While still expected to stay above average, temperatures will gradually throttle back by the middle and later half of the week.