The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 18, 2013

Relief from worst heat on the horizon by weekend

(Continued)

"It was just too hot. I couldn't breathe," he said, turning away a customer who asked for a hamburger. "Just cold drinks," he said.

Amid the heat, officials in Washington D.C.'s Maryland suburbs worked to keep a failing water main from cutting off hundreds of thousands of people, just when they needed it most. People in Prince George's County were asked not to run their faucets, water their lawns or flush toilets to keep the water system from emptying during emergency repairs.

Firefighters in southern California faced brutally hot — but dangerously dry — conditions as they battled a wildfire outside Palm Springs that had already consumed seven homes.

New Mexico and parts of Texas turned out to be rare outposts of cool air Wednesday — but not without trouble of their own: heavy rains prompted flood watches and warnings in some areas. More than five inches of rain fell in 24 hours in Plainview, north of Lubbock, according to the National Weather Service.

At the World Trade Center reconstruction site in New York City, workers building a rail hub dripped under their hardhats, thick gloves and heavy-duty boots. Some wore towels around their necks to wipe away the sweat.

"We're drinking a lot of water, down under by the tracks, in and out of the sun all day — very hot," said carpenter Elizabeth Fontanez, of the Bronx, who labored with 20 pounds of tools and safety equipment strapped to her waist. Since the heat wave began, she said she has been changing shirts several times during her shifts.

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Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik contributed to this report.

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