2 more die as triple-digit heat in central San Joaquin Valley hits 12th day

Published: July 8, 2013 Updated 4 hours ago
By Diana Aguilera The Fresno Bee
State officials announced Monday two more suspected heat-related deaths in the Valley as thermometers hit triple digits for the 12th straight day.
Cal/OSHA officials said the heat-related deaths happened Friday. A 37-year-old farmworker was checking irrigation equipment in a lemon orchard near Richgrove, east of Delano, when he collapsed. He was found about 3 p.m. Officials said the temperature at the time of his death was over 100 degrees.
The worker, identified by the United Farmworkers of America as Juan Ochoa, was employed by Visalia-based Etchegaray Farms.
Also Friday, a 55-year-old maintenance manager died at YMCA Camp Sequoia Lake in eastern Fresno County, officials said. That man was not identified.
Officials said Friday's deaths were being investigated as heat-related pending autopsy results. Cal/OSHA said there have been seven suspected heat-related deaths in the state since June 18, including a 30-year-old farmworker who died July 2 after harvesting watermelons in a field near Coalinga. The temperature that day hit 109 degrees. That man has not been identified.
The National Weather Service said the hot weather is sticking around for a while.
Monday's high in Fresno hit 106 and the weather service predicts another 106 today. Wednesday's high is expected to reach 103.
Friday might bring "relief" -- a predicted high of 99, meteorologist Michael Bingham said.
But that relief would be short-lived, he said: "It may not break 100, but it will start warming up again."
Unfortunately, the heat wave's only change is not one to look forward to -- humidity.
"Starting Wednesday or Thursday it will start to get more humid," Bingham said. "It will be a little bit more uncomfortable, similar like what we experienced last week."
The stifling heat will remain during the weekend with Saturday's high forecast at 101 and Sunday's high at 102.
Before this summer, Fresno's most recent long spell of triple-digit temperatures was in August 2012 when the mercury climbed past 100 for 19 straight days, according to weather service records.