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Heat wave roasts East Coast with 2 more deaths reported, but relief is on the way
NEW YORK (AP) ' A heat wave scorched the East Coast with another day of triple-digit temperatures on Saturday, forcing power authorities to throttle back the voltage to protect straining electrical grids as residents cranked up the air.
Temperatures reached 105 degrees in Atlantic City, N.J.; 104 in Trenton, N.J.; 103 in Norfolk, Va.; 102 in Baltimore, Newark, N.J., and at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and New York's Kennedy Airport; and 101 in Philadelphia, but humidity made it feel hotter most places across the region.
In New York's Times Square, tourists crowded into patches of shade along a baking Broadway, where Tony Eckinger, 34, was selling spray bottles with fans attached for $30. He had bought them at a drug store earlier in the day for $15.
"All the stores here are sold out," Eckinger said. "Everybody's trying to keep cool."
Nearby, Gordon Miller, 58, waited in the sun as his family bought theater tickets at a discount booth.
"I told them I don't care what we see," said Miller, of Peebles, Scotland. "Getting inside and getting cool, that's the idea."
The heat will begin to ease Sunday, but will remain in the 90s, National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina said.
"Monday is really when we see cooler air coming," he said, with forecast temperatures sinking to the lower to middle 80s.
The bubble of hot air developed over the Midwest earlier this week and has caused more than a dozen deaths as it moved eastward. As of Saturday, the medical examiner's office in Chicago listed heat stress or heat stroke as the cause of death for eight people. The latest death, involved a 59-year-old man.
In south-central Pennsylvania, authorities said a 63-year-old man in York died Friday of hyperthermia, or overheating, in an unventilated apartment where the temperature had reached 110 degrees. A 94-year-old man in Carroll Township also died after his air conditioner stopped working because of a tripped circuit breaker.
On Saturday morning, commuter trains were packed as thousands of New Yorkers headed to beaches on Long Island or New Jersey. Four city beaches were under a pollution warning after a fire earlier in the week at a wastewater plant forced officials to dump millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Hudson River.
About 10,000 customers remained without power in New York City and its suburbs, and about 9,000 in New Jersey, after parts of the region's electrical network failed. Power utility Con Edison said it was reducing the voltage in 69 other New York neighborhoods to ease the load caused by thousands of air conditioners.
City officials said water usage had soared as New Yorkers tried to keep cool. On Saturday, it hovered around 1.5 billion gallons a day, about 50 percent higher than normal, said Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway.
In Manhattan, taxi driver Egor Targon said his business was booming because people didn't want to walk in the heat. Still, he took Friday off, when temperatures crept up to 104, and went to the beach in New Jersey.
"If my head is dripping, I'd rather it be with ocean water than with sweat," he said.
In Manassas, Va., 11 people who attended a Civil War re-enactment to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run were taken to hospitals for heat-related illnesses, but none of them were believed to be critically sickened, said Joseph Robertson, battalion chief for the Prince William County fire and rescue service.
Pittsburgh's Monongahela Incline, a popular tourist attraction, was knocked out by heat-related problems but resumed service by mid-afternoon Saturday, according to the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The incline's 635-foot track lifts riders 370 feet to the Mount Washington neighborhood overlooking downtown.
In New Jersey, which has seen some of the highest temperatures, Margaret Sanger of Berkeley Township said she was nearing wit's end after days holed up in their house.
"I love my four kids dearly and they love me, but if we all have to stay together in the house for too long, one or more us won't make it out alive," Sanger said. Her family planned to take in the new "Harry Potter" movie in the early afternoon, then go to a restaurant for dinner.
On Saturday she picked up some milk and eggs at a supermarket.
"I haven't had the oven on for a few days since it's been so hot, and we've basically been living on fruit and sandwiches. We need a little more sustenance," Sanger said.
In Philadelphia, city pools were limiting swimmers to 45 minutes each to keep up with demand.
Associated Press writers Colleen Long in New York, Ron Todt in Philadelphia, Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., and Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.