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Calif. officials probe worker deaths

Posted: July 5, 2013 1:30 p.m.
Updated: July 5, 2013 1:30 p.m.

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — California workplace safety officials are investigating the deaths of a farm worker and construction worker as possibly heat-related.

A 30-year-old farmworker who had been working at a watermelon field southwest of Fresno, near Coalinga, died Tuesday, the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health said.

The farmworker was working for Foothill Packing based in Salinas. Officials say the temperature at the time of his death was 105 degrees.

The 55-year-old construction worker, employed by Cooper Construction, died last Friday in Yuba City, north of Sacramento. The temperature at the time of his death was reported at 101 degrees.

Cal-OSHA issued an Order Prohibiting Use against Cooper Construction for imminent hazards and that order remains in place.

The deaths occurred while the state was in the grip of a heat wave that sent temperatures into the triple digits for more than a week.

State officials say coroners are still trying to determine the cause of death.

A 77-year-old man was found dead in his mobile home in Ceres, south of Modesto, on Tuesday night and an autopsy determined that the cause was heat. Officials say a malfunctioning air conditioner was blasting hot air in the home at more than 100 degrees.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect in central California until 8 p.m. Friday. Fresno and Bakersfield will see highs of 105 degrees Friday.

Temperatures are expected to drop by a few degrees over the weekend, meteorologists say, but will remain in the triple digits throughout the San Joaquin Valley into next week.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.



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