Southern California Hot Spot Hits 812 Degrees, Baffles Experts
The ground is so hot in one part of Southern California it can melt the shoes right off your feet.
An unexplained "thermal anomaly" caused a patch of land in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, to reach a temperature of over 800 degrees on Friday, baffling experts who have been monitoring the area for weeks.
The anomaly was discovered after the land got so hot that it started a brush fire and burned three acres last month.
Firefighters were brought to the scene after reports of a blaze, but by the time they arrived only smoldering dirt and brush remained.
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Firefighters took no chances with the smoking ground, clearing brush near the fumes and cutting a fire line around the area to prevent a blaze from igniting.
"We are a little perplexed at this point, to tell you the truth," the Ventura County Star quoted geologist David Panaro as saying. "This is not your usual geological detective story."
The area has recorded high temperatures at least five times since 1987, Allen King, a retired geologist with the U.S. Forest Service told the newspaper.
The hot spot is located in steep, rugged terrain a few miles north of the town of Fillmore on land owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and leased by Seneca Resources Corp.
Officials who are familiar with the patch of land, which is near the large Sespe Oil Field, have come up with a few theories as to why the ground soared to 812 degrees fahrenheit on August 1.
One theory is that natural hydrocarbons, such as oil or gas, are burning deep in the earth and seeping out through cracks in the area, causing the surface to rapidly heat and generate smoke.
According to the Star, Allen King, a former geologist with the U.S. Forest Service recently stuck a thermometer into the ground and got a reading of 550 degrees — so hot that it melted the glue holding the sole of his boots together.
"After that we were more cautious about standing in one place for too long," he said.