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SCORCHED!

Record temps bring dangers, opportunities to community
by: Courtesy Photo, A Forest Grove Fire & Rescue firefighter hoses down a brush fire during last weekend’s heat wave.

Who ever thought 85 degrees would seem like a cold front?

Temperatures smashed previous record highs last weekend in Washington County as the thermometer rose well above the triple-digit line, to 108 degrees Friday and 105 degrees on Sunday. The previous record highs on those days were 101 and 99 degrees.

While many local residents lamented the soaring mercury, others viewed it as opportunity.

Daniel Dominguez, owner of Bosco's Burgers in Cornelius, missed his 35-year high school reunion in Hillsboro as customers flocked to buy the new slushie flavors, Strawberry-Kiwi and Peach-Mango, that came in on Friday. 'They've been selling like hotcakes,' Dominguez said.

Van Dyke Appliance in Forest Grove sold out of on Saturday in a last-minute rush by local residents to beat the heat.

Owner Rebecca Loranger said the store sold 36 units on Friday and Saturday, before supplies ran out. On an average weekend, she said, the store sells about six of the units, which run between $145 and $300.

The store began the summer with about 150 units, Loranger said, and because orders have to be placed by November, won't get any more this summer.

Requests for air conditioning repairs had technicians working weekend overtime at D.F. McClenny Refrigeration in Cornelius, which services home central air conditioning systems as well as commercial refrigerators. Repair technicians worked late into the evenings to cover more than a dozen repair jobs, said Vic Brost, a McClenny employee. As of Monday, technicians were completely booked through Thursday.

All those air conditioners humming away take their toll on power supplies.

In Forest Grove, electrical usage is up by about a third over the June peak, according to Janet Lonneker, general manager for the city-owned Forest Grove Light and Power.

Lonneker said decreased commercial and industrial power usage over the weekend helped offset increased residential demand, and no system problems were encountered.

Anglers, boaters and disc-golfers turned out in droves at Hagg Lake over the weekend. More than 17,000 visitors were counted at the man-made lake between Friday and Sunday, according to Washington County Parks Supervisor Chris Wayland.

Attendance at the park, located between Forest Grove and Gaston, was up to more than 406,000 as of July 23, a 13 percent jump from the 357,000 who had attended the park by the same date last year.

'That's a pretty dramatic increase,' Wayland said. 'We were really busy.'

The farms and nurseries that use water from the lake for irrigation were also pumping gallon upon gallon over the weekend. The high water mark dipped about 4 inches overnight, according to Wayland. The heavy water use has a 'negligible impact' on recreational use of the lake, Wayland said.

The Forest Grove Aquatic Center was also at capacity Saturday, as more than 250 people combated the heat with a dip in the indoor pool or a run through the outdoor 'spray park,' said Parks and Recreation director Tom Gamble.

While the high temps brought some welcome business to local merchants and recreation officials, it caused some problems.

The blistering heat also contributed to a brush fire that charred a half-acre parcel of land and closed the Wilson River Highway for four hours Friday.

It took approximately 70 firefighters from Forest Grove, Banks, Cornelius and Washington County about three hours to quell the blaze, caused by a dead tree falling across a power line on the highway about a quarter-mile west of Timber Road.

The firefighters had the flames under control by 5:30 p.m., but monitored the scene through the night to douse hotspots.

One firefighter and an Oregon Department of Transportation worker suffered from heat exposure after working in the 100-degree temperatures. The firefighter was transported to the hospital and released soon after, according to Forest Grove Fire and Rescue Chief Bob Mills. The ODOT worker was treated at the scene.