Image: Swelterng California residents
Francis Specker  /  AP file
Kat and Joe Santos seek relief from the 102-degree-plus temperatures in Fontana, Calif., on Sunday.
updated 9/5/2007 10:09:26 PM ET 2007-09-06T02:09:26

An eight-day heat wave killed as many as 28 people in Southern California before the temperatures finally began to ebb, coroners in four counties said Wednesday.

Temperatures have soared past 110 degrees in desert sections of the region, with nighttime temperatures easing only a few degrees. Wednesday's highs were expected to be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the day before, the National Weather Service said.

Utility crews still struggled Wednesday to restore electricity to tens of thousands of homes that have lost power as increased use of air conditioners strained power grids.

Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey said his office was investigating 16 possible heat-related deaths. Imperial County Deputy Coroner Henry Proo said seven deaths in that typically hot county were considered heat-related. Four heat-related deaths were reported in San Bernardino County, and one was reported in Riverside County.

Among the victims were a 26-year-old man who got separated from friends while dirt biking in northern Los Angeles County, said Lt. Larry Dietz of the county coroner's office. Imperial County authorities were blaming 116-degree heat for the deaths of an elderly woman found in a home that lacked air conditioning and a 58-year-old man discovered in a trailer that had no electricity or running water, Proo said.

Southern California Edison reported failures affecting nearly 18,000 customers Wednesday and said nearly 9,700 of them had been without power for more than a day. In Los Angeles, nearly 6,800 customers were blacked out, Department of Water and Power spokeswoman Terry Schneider said.

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