Heat wave hits U.S. West as Oregon wildfire rages

A punishing heat wave was again forecast to bring near-record high temperatures to many parts of the U.S. West on Monday, as a wildfire raged out of control in drought-stricken Oregon.

The so-called Bootleg Fire had burned through more than 150,000 acres as of Monday morning, and crews have made little progress containing the blaze.

The flames were burning along a high voltage power corridor connecting Oregon's power grid with California's, worrying officials in both states that electricity could be knocked out to thousands of homes and businesses.

Hundreds of residents in the Klamath Falls area, in south-central Oregon, were under mandatory evacuation orders, and county officials said police began issuing citations to enforce them and will consider the unusual step of making arrests if necessary.

In California, scorching temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend at Joshua Tree National Park failed to keep visitors away, including a newlywed couple from New Jersey.

33-YEAR-OLD NEW JERSEY RESIDENT MICHAEL NEILSON: "It's the hottest place on Earth, like this is hot, it's never been hotter. It feels like we're in an oven. Yeah, actually the air feels hot. It's so hot."

Even visitors from typically hot climates were surprised at the sweltering heat.

32-YEAR-OLD TOURIST FROM DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ARISMENDE HERNANDEZ: "Well, I came from the Caribbean and came from Dominican Republic, from a really hot country, and it's still hot for me, so I'm trying my best."

Monday's forecast comes a day after California's Death Valley hit a scorching 130 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the highest temperatures ever recorded on Earth.

The unseasonable heat wave, triggered by a lingering high pressure system, is already the third for the region this year, an anomaly that some experts have attributed to climate change.

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