High temperature flirts with record on first day of Sacramento fireworks sales

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Utility provider SMUD gave infrared thermometers to reporters to help demonstrate the cooling effect of trees. Tree cover can dramatically reduce the cost of cooling homes and businesses.
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Utility provider SMUD gave infrared thermometers to reporters to help demonstrate the cooling effect of trees. Tree cover can dramatically reduce the cost of cooling homes and businesses.

As the temperature rose well into the triple digits in Sacramento Tuesday, nonprofit fireworks stands began opening up shop, taking advantage of the first day of permitted fireworks sales.

The temperature in Sacramento topped out at 107 degrees, one degree shy of the record set in 2009, according to the National Weather Service. It wavered around 100 degrees as fireworks stands opened for operation at noon. Sacramento allows booths to continue selling until 10 p.m. July Fourth, and Sacramento County code allows them to continue operating until July 5.

For the fifth consecutive year, California Marine Families is manning a fireworks stand on Madison Avenue in Carmichael. Sandi Stranathan, a volunteer at the stand, said the fireworks fundraiser keeps the organization running each year, with last year’s profits amounting to nearly $9,000.

It’s worth the work and withstanding the heat, Stranathan said, because the fundraiser is so lucrative.

“We have battery-powered fans, fans with spray bottles and lots and lots of water,” she said.

Katrina Womack and Krystal Safonov, parents of cheerleaders at Bella Vista High School, said their fireworks stand on San Juan Avenue in Carmichael is also “the biggest moneymaker” annually for their group, Bella Vista Cheer.

Though stands could not officially begin selling fireworks until noon, Womack said she and the other parent volunteers had been at the stand since 10 a.m., setting up the booth, displaying products and prices and preparing the stand for customers. They had wet towels draped around their necks, and said they were keeping hydrated and making use of ice chests in the trunks of their cars.

When asked how he was dealing with the heat inside his booth on Tuesday, Charlie Chase, with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Folsom, simply laughed.

“You learn how to sweat with a smile on your face,” Chase said.

Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire spokesman, urges people using safe and sane fireworks to be extra careful because of extremely dry conditions caused by drought.

Dian Burdine, whose Madison Avenue stand supports Teen Challenge, a rehabilitation program for youths with addictions and life-threatening problems, said fundraising efforts like the fireworks stand are crucial for programs like Teen Challenge, which does not receive government funding.

“For one week of hard, hot work, we can really change a life,” Burdine said. “And that’s a really cool thing that happens here.”

As Burdine spoke, another volunteer with Teen Challenge walked around the booth with a mister, spraying the workers as they set up their stand.

Sacramento meteorologist Travis Wilson said that while Tuesday’s temperature was well above the 91 degree average for June 28, it wasn’t extraordinary.

“It’s pretty usual to get a heat wave, and then it’ll cool down,” he said. “It’s an oscillating pattern we see.”

The heat is attributable to high pressure in the area combined with a shallow marine layer, or cool air over the ocean. Normally Sacramento gets a cool breeze that comes inland from the ocean – popularly known as the Delta breeze – but the high pressure compresses the marine layer and allows the region to heat up, he said.

The high on Monday was also 107, but the forecast calls for high temperatures to gradually decline to the low 90s by the end of the week.

Like the volunteers at the fireworks booths, city workers struggled to keep cool on Tuesday, covering their faces with cloth and wearing sunglasses to protect themselves from the heat.

John Hardin, who cuts down hazardous tree branches for the city, said he’s lucky to work under trees, because they offer shade. Other people, like construction workers, have to work directly under the sun, Hardin noted.

His co-worker, Edgar Sanchez, said they try to drink more water, take extra breaks and take easier jobs on the hottest days of the summer.

“We had a co-worker who had heat exhaustion a couple years ago,” Sanchez said. “If we feel like that we have to get on the truck, turn on the AC and take a break. And a lot of times you just have to go home.”

Other times, there’s no choice but to take major assignments so they try to take it slow and keep hydrated, he said.

Be safe. Here are some of the simple steps that save lives around pools.

Tyler Foggatt: 916-321-1145, @tylerfoggatt

Alejandra Reyes-Velarde: 916-321-1005

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