LOS ANGELES – An eight-day heat wave that finally broke Wednesday killed as many as 25 people in Southern California before the temperatures finally began to ebb, coroners in four counties said Wednesday.
Temperatures had soared past 110 degrees in desert sections of the region, with nighttime temperatures easing only a few degrees. Wednesday's highs were expected to be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the day before, the National Weather Service said.
Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Larry Dietz said his office was investigating 15 possible heat-related deaths. Imperial County Deputy Coroner Henry Proo said seven deaths in that typically hot county were considered heat-related. Two heat-related deaths were reported in San Bernardino County, and one was reported in Riverside County.
Temperatures were down early Wednesday, with 70 degrees reported in downtown Los Angeles. Downtown temperatures would reach 79 degrees later in the day, with Inland temperatures forecast to hit the mid-80s, according to the National Weather Service.
Utility crews still struggled Wednesday to restore electricity to tens of thousands of homes that have lost power as increased use of air conditioners strained power grids.
The milder weather came as a relief to a region that had experienced eight days of heat that surged past 110 degrees at times in some areas.
Among the dead were an elderly couple whose bodies were found Monday in their apartment in an area of the San Fernando Valley where 106-degree temperatures had been reported in recent days.
Meanwhile, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies found the body of a man identified as Michael Cuhna of Hesperia on the Marine Corps base in Twentynine Palms on Sunday. A preliminary coroner's report found Cuhna died of exposure and dehydration.
A friend who reported Cuhna missing a day earlier told police the two were separated while illegally gathering scrap metal from the base.
Elsewhere in San Bernardino County, a 47-year-old woman whose vehicle got stuck in the sand in a desert area was found dead Saturday, according to county deputy coroner Chalone Rhea.
Utility crews were struggling throughout Southern California to restore electricity to darkened homes, as increased air conditioner use strained power grids.
About 11,800 homes in the city of Los Angeles were without power late Tuesday, Department of Water and Power spokeswoman MaryAnne Pierson said.
Some 29,000 customers of Southern California Edison, which serves Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, were also in the dark late Tuesday, utility spokesman Paul Klein said.