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Workers take to the heat

Rising temperatures mean more calls for some

Posted: August 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Bob Lucas works on an air conditioner behind a home in Newhall on Friday.

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Normally, Bob Lucas leaves the house calls to his air conditioning company’s three technicians. But on Friday afternoon, he was leaning over an outdoor air conditioner outside a Newhall home in 106-degree heat — trying to keep up with demand.

“During the mild season we may get four or five calls a day,” said Lucas, owner of Santa Clarita Custom Air. “But this week we’re taking 30 calls a day.”

“We lose customers because we can’t get to them fast enough,” Lucas said, adding that he was on his current call because his friend who owns another air conditioning company was too busy to take it.

This week’s record-breaking heat wave — temperatures climbed to 106 degrees Friday in both Saugus and the Newhall Pass, according to the National Weather Service, and broke local records earlier in the week — has been a boon to air conditioning repair people but a burden for those whose jobs require them to work outside.

Peter Arreola, a Santa Clarita street maintenance worker, said the excessive heat makes it tough to put down lane-dividing lines. The glue used to make the lines is heated to 450 degrees.

“We watch each other to make sure everyone is OK,” Arreola said, referring to heat stroke. Arreola said he and his work crew have taken classes to identify heat stroke with themselves and fellow workers.

Arreola was sporting a long-sleeve orange shirt, sunglasses, and a large straw hat as he inspected the corner of Newhall Ranch Road and Bouquet Canyon Road for debris or disrepair Friday afternoon.

“People think we’re crazy for wearing long-sleeve shirts,” Arreola said. “But it helps keep the sun off you.”

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning and hazardous weather outlook for the Santa Clarita Valley on Friday. The weather service encouraged SCV residents to stay in air-conditioned buildings and drink plenty of fluids.

Friday’s temperatures didn’t break the 109-degree record set for the Santa Clarita Valley in 2003, according to Newhall County Water District data reaching back to 1984.

Temperatures are expected to begin a gradual downturn this weekend, the National Weather Service forecast. Highs are forecast for 104 today, 101 Sunday, 100 Monday and finally dip into double digits, at 97 degrees, on Tuesday. Nighttime lows will drop into the lower 60s by Tuesday night.

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