Image: Dodd
Dave Waters  /  AP file
Odessa Dodd, of Gold Bar, Wash., uses a mister to fight 106-degree heat before an auto race at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Sunday.
updated 9/4/2007 8:31:41 AM ET 2007-09-04T12:31:41

A break from high temperatures is expected this week in Southern California, where the scorching heat has been blamed for at least two deaths and thousands of power outages.

Fire officials say an elderly couple was found in their apartment in a San Fernando Valley neighborhood, where temperatures of 106 degrees were reported. The man and woman did not have air conditioning.

The National Weather Service says those in California can expect a drop in temperature readings of eight to 11 degrees on Tuesday, with things getting “back to normal” by Thursday.

Monday marked the seventh day of the heat wave that caused power outages and that left thousands without air conditioning.

Southern California Edison said 20,000 customers in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino counties had no electricity on Monday, spokesman Steve Conroy said.

San Diego Gas and Electric Co., which serves San Diego County and southern Orange County, declared a power emergency and began preparing for potential rolling blackouts as demand hit a record.

About 30,000 of its customers experienced outages Monday, but electricity was restored to 22,000 of them by the afternoon, spokesman Peter Hidalgo said.

“We need immediate energy conservation, or else there will be rolling blackouts,” Hidalgo said.

About 3,500 customers in scattered parts of Los Angeles also were without power, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power spokeswoman MaryAnne Piersen said.

“Probably more than 90 percent of them are due to stress on the system due to the heat,” she said. “Different pieces of equipment get fatigued and blow out, so they have to be replaced.”

Lightning strikes on grid equipment due to scattered desert thunderstorms also were adding to the strain.

The California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s power grid, said no major shortages were expected. But it was urging customers to conserve electricity by setting air conditioning thermostats higher and waiting to use major appliances until after dark.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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