Wildfire in Montana explodes to 21,000 acres as heat wave continues

(NEW YORK) — The historic heat wave in the West is not relenting — and the high temperatures may be contributing to a massive wildfire that’s exploded in size.

Las Vegas hit 116 degrees on Wednesday, breaking a daily record, while Grand Junction, Colorado, reached 105 degrees, an all-time June record.

On Thursday, the heat moves into Northern California and the Plains.

California residents have been asked to scale down their power usage to prevent a strain on the system, reported ABC San Francisco station KGO-TV.

In Nebraska, the heat has already caused a road to buckle.

Palm Springs, California is forecast to reach 116 degrees on Thursday, while Sacramento, California could climb to 109 and Omaha, Nebraska to 103.

Record highs are possible in Des Moines, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri.

Twelve states are on heat and fire alerts from California to Iowa; heat, gusty winds and dry conditions can help wildfires spread more easily.

In Montana, the Robertson Draw wildfire near the Wyoming border has exploded from 2,000 acres to 21,000 acres.

The heat will remain for most of the West into the weekend, with temperatures staying in the 120s in the Southern California deserts and Phoenix continuing its record streak of 115 degrees or more into the weekend.

California’s scorching temperatures come amid a drought in the Golden State.

“It’s a big concern because I’ll have to buy extra hay this year. We didn’t get as much rain and not much grass,” cattle ranger Roger Tweedy told ABC Fresno station KFSN-TV. “Farmers are not going to get any water to irrigate with — that means they have to pump. That’s expensive. That drives their costs way up, therefore they push that cost off onto us.”

Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, a tropical disturbance could become tropical storm Claudette on Friday.

Heavy rain is expected along the Gulf Coast and much of the South.

By Friday afternoon and evening, some heavy rain will begin to impact the Louisiana and Mississippi coast, including New Orleans. The worst of the heavy rain in New Orleans will be from Friday night into Saturday afternoon.

More than 1 foot of rain is forecast for parts of Louisiana. Six to 12 inches of rain is expected in Louisiana, Mississippi and parts of Georgia and Alabama.

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