Dangerous heat a challenge for firefighters, hikers

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Saturday was the hottest day of the year and that dangerous heat caused problems for people across the Valley.

Phoenix firefighters battled not only flames but also temperatures approaching 110 while fighting a house fire in Ahwatukee.

“It is very taxing on the firefighters,” said Capt. Jonathan Jacobs with the Phoenix Fire Department.

On hot days extra crews respond to help share the burden.

“It's safe for us to rotate them, let them work for about 20 minutes and then get them out and let them rehabilitate for a little while,” said Capt. Jacobs.

During the summer, firefighters cut back on outdoor training and focus more on staying hydrated.

Staying hydrated in the heat is good advice several hikers in the Valley did not heed. 

In Scottsdale, emergency crews had to go up into the mountains twice to rescue two different hikers who were overwhelmed by the heat – one an elderly man.
“[The heat] caused him to pass out and unfortunately when he passed out he fell into a bunch of cholla to top it off,” said Capt. Tim Cooper, Scottsdale Fire Department.

The other hiker was a fairly fit 36-year-old man who had been up in the McDowell Mountains for five hours in 107 degree heat when he ran out of water. Capt. Cooper said told 3TV the man started feeling dizzy and nauseous and called 9-1-1 when he could no longer walk. He was treated and released.

Rescuers said there's a dangerous reality about heat and hiking many people don't realize.

“The rocks radiate that heat and actually increase it by 15, 20, 25 degrees. So you're getting kind of a radiated effect so literally you could be in 135, 140 degree heat,” said Capt. Cooper.