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WHEW! Sizzling subsides but fire risk rises

Sunday's high temperature of 89 degrees broke the previous record of 85 degrees set in 1952, and near-record highs over the past 10 days sent Sequim residents out to buy bags of ice, fans and kiddie pools.

Lemonade stands popped up around town. Salesmen at A-1 Auto Parts reported brisk sales of window shades and coolant. And the fire hazard level was raised to high.

Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the state's largest on-call fire department, ordered a burn ban for all DNR land.

The ban prohibits recreational fires except in established campgrounds in designated firepit areas. The department's Web site, www.dnr.wa.gov, posts daily updates, generally at noon.

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin announced a ban on backcountry campfires in the park effective Monday, Aug. 3.

All campfires are prohibited in the park with the exception of those in established fire pits in front-country campgrounds.

Six forest fires were burning within the park as of Monday afternoon.

Park officials advise that although the fires in Seven Lakes Basin and the upper Elwha are not affecting the trail system at this time, hikers may encounter smoke in these areas, and that if fire activity increases, limited trail closures may be necessary.

Updated information on trail closures is available through the park's Wilderness Information Center, 360-565-3100.



Blood drives canceled

Last week's temperatures forced cancellation of blood drives in many non-air-conditioned venues, creating a critical drop in the blood supply, according to the Puget Sound Blood Center.

Michael Young, of the blood center, said that as temperatures moderated Thursday and Friday, they stopped canceling blood drives.

"There is still a slight shortage of O-positive blood," Young said, "but the rest have recovered nicely."

Marv Fowler of Sequim Auto Clinic said, "We're doing a heck of a lot of air conditioning. Since this heat came in, we're doing four or five cars a day where normally we do four or five a week."

His shop hasn't seen much of a problem with overheated vehicles unless they already had problems with their cooling systems.

Sandra Ramsey, practice manager at Primary Care Sequim and Walk-in Clinic said, "We've seen an increase in urinary tract infections related to not drinking enough water."

Also, Ramsey said, "We've seen a huge increase in bee stings, wasp stings and yellowjackets. The hotter it gets, the less clothes they wear; so more skin, more opportunity."

She encourages people to hydrate well and use a nontoxic bug repellent.



Selling fans was a breeze

The Co-op Farm and Garden in Sequim did a booming business in fans last week. Store manager Kathy Reid said, "We even sold a few air conditioners."

Renee Beaulieu, shelter manager for Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, said "Kudos to the public for taking care of their animals." In spite of the extreme heat, reports of pets in trouble did not increase.

Jeff Beaman, executive communications coordinator for Clallam County PUD, said it had no operational problems and, although they won't have specific figures until their monthly reports are in, he estimated a

5-percent increase in usage.

"We don't have that much air conditioning load here," he said. During hot conditions, air conditioning is usually what drives up energy consumption.



Reach Sandra Frykholm at sfrykholm@sequimgazette.com.









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