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Temperatures soar in Southwest, smashing records and stoking fires

An extreme heat wave has fueled more than a dozen wildfires that threaten hundreds of homes in the West. (Video: Reuters)

A heat dome of historic intensity brought record temperatures to the Desert Southwest on Monday while exacerbating fires.

While some say it’s always hot in the Southwest, this was not a typical extreme-heat event.

How global warming may push the Southwest heatwave past an extremely rare threshold

Two locations in the Southern California desert witnessed temperatures as high as they’ve been in recorded history. Needles, Calif., surged to 125 degrees, tying its all-time high temperature from 1925 and 2005, while Blythe Airport in California hit 124, beating the previous all-time high of 123.

Numerous other locations in the Southwest desert set daily record highs including Las Vegas (115), Death Valley (126), Tucson (112) and Phoenix (116).

In Phoenix, the low on Monday morning was just 90 degrees, the earliest in the calendar year on record in which the low had not dropped below that threshold.

Record heat scalding the Southwest in extreme weather pattern

In addition to the historic heat in the desert, record heat stretched almost to the Southern California coast. Los Angeles International Airport set a daily record high of 95 Monday, while Burbank spiked to 111 degrees.

The heat coupled with strong winds and extremely dry conditions were blamed for fanning two fires that torched over 4,500 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles.

While the intensity of the heat is forecast to diminish some Tuesday, excessive heat warnings remain over many areas of the Southwest.

In Southern California, the National Weather Service is warning that the “extreme fire danger” will persist through at least Tuesday due to heat, high winds and low humidity.