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California Heat Wave Death Toll Rises

One hundred degrees temperatures in California this week have had a deadly impact with at least 116 deaths attributed to the heat. Authorities discuss how they are helping those suffering.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And finally tonight, the deadly impact of the California heat wave. Jeffrey Brown has our story.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    For the first time in two weeks, the temperature across most of California fell just below 100 degrees today. But the death toll from the record-breaking heat wave continued to rise.

    PHIL LARSON, Chair, Fresno Board of Supervisors: It's straining our emergency resources terribly. Our emergency resources are at full tilt and trying to stay up with it.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Hardest hit was the central valley, where the thermometer spiked at 115 degrees earlier this week. More than 20 suspected heat-related deaths are under investigation in Fresno alone. Most of the victims were elderly.

  • DR. DALE ROBBINS, Kern County Medical Center:

    All of the body's systems, the cardio-respiratory system, the nervous system, can be impaired and can basically shut down.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visited a center in Los Angeles where residents could come to cool off. He warned that more heat could be on the way.

    GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), California: Let's all work together now this summer, because there will be a few heat waves coming. There is people like us all here that are, you know, fit and we can handle if all of a sudden our air conditioning goes out or if something goes wrong at the house, but there's a lot of vulnerable citizens that can't because they're sick and they're fragile.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Some county officials around the state said there wasn't enough done to prevent the deaths.

  • HENRY PEREA, Fresno County Supervisor:

    We needed to raise the level of awareness, and in my mind we didn't do that soon enough.

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