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LA heat wave takes some sizzle out of Hollywood

LOS ANGELES — It was so hot in Los Angeles on Tuesday that even Spider-Man took the day off.

As temperatures soared to 99 degrees, tourists along Hollywood Boulevard were disappointed to discover that a fall heat wave has just about the same effect on Spider-Man — and Batman and Wonder Woman — as kryptonite does on Superman: it turns them into mere mortals.

“The costumed characters really suffer in this heat. They have to stay inside,” said John Oren, who had loaded up on sunblock, bottled water and diet soda before setting up a stand where he sells wind chimes in front of the Kodak Theatre.

Only Catwoman, bundled up in what she acknowledged was an uncomfortably hot suit that included a leather mask, tights, corset and boots, was brave enough to step outside and meow to passers-by. Like her comic-book counterpart, she declined to reveal her true identity.

Although Tuesday’s high of 99 in downtown Los Angeles was 7 degrees below the record for the day, it was still 17 degrees above normal. The temperature reached a record high 113 on Monday.

Tourists carried not only cameras Tuesday but also bottles of water and — usually a rare sight in sunny Southern California — umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. Several said the heat caught them by surprise.

“We had to buy new clothes. We brought winter clothes,” said tourist Jenni Kinsey of Cardiff, Wales, dressed in a halter top and shorts, and clutching a nearly empty bottle of water.

“Water and lots of beer,” she said with a laugh. “That’s how we’re keeping cool.”

Residents out to walk their dogs carried two bottles of water, one for the animal and another for them. At the edge of the city’s sprawling Griffith Park, trainers at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center were struggling to keep scores of horses cool by hosing them down, limiting their workouts and running cooling fans in the stalls.

“They’re just like people. Just because they’re bigger doesn’t mean they’re tougher. The heat is hard on them,” said trainer Lisa Thorpe as she checked on a retired racehorse named Silverado Man. As if in agreement, the horse nodded its head.

As the heat wave continued, schools curtailed or canceled physical activity. One campus moved cheerleading practice from Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning.

“We stretched for like a minute, and then we just sat down,” Aubreann Loving, one of the cheerleaders at Arcadia High School in the Los Angeles suburb, said of Monday’s canceled practice. “It was too hot to do anything.”

No heat-related deaths were confirmed, but the Los Angeles County coroner’s office was looking at two possible cases.

Coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral said heat stroke was suspected in the Monday death of Sally JoAnne Menke, a film editor on Quentin Tarantino movies, who had gone hiking in Griffith Park. Hyperthermia was also suspected in the death of Arquimedes Mestre, 57, whose body was found on a street in Pomona.

The unrelenting heat also placed huge demand for power on utility companies as people ran their air conditioners nonstop.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recorded its highest-ever demand for electricity Monday, causing transformers to blow up or burn out and leaving thousands of people without power. The department said more than 11,000 customers remained without electricity Tuesday in the city, while Southern California Edison was working to repair heat-related outages for more than 27,000 customers.

Southern California Edison said the peak electrical demand Tuesday was 19,955 megawatts, the highest it has recorded since Aug. 31, 2007, when a record high of 23,303 megawatts was reached.

“Because we’ve had such hot nights, people are still running their air conditioners, etc. So the equipment really doesn’t get a break,” said Edison spokeswoman Vanessa McGrady.

Nor was it getting a break in Sam Stanley’s limousine, which was parked in 99-degree heat along Hollywood Boulevard on Tuesday. “I set it at 65,” he said of his air-conditioning. “People want me to set it at 60, but you can’t do that. If I do that, the engine will freeze up.”

As for how he keeps looking sharp — standing outside the car in a buttoned-up dark blue suit while everyone around him was sweating — Stanley said with a laugh: “You gotta be cool, brother, you gotta be cool.”


Associated Press writer John Antczak contributed to this story.

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