Emergency 'cooling centres' set up to tackle US heat

East Los Angeles Library, a designated "Heat Emergency Cooling Center". Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Alcorn

Cooling stations have been set up to shelter the homeless and elderly people who cannot afford to run their air conditioners, as a potentially dangerous heatwave blistered parts of western US.

In California, Nevada and Arizona, air-conditioned "cooling centres" were set up in community centres, homeless shelters and libraries, and officials warned residents to avoid prolonged exposure to the searing temperatures.

In Phoenix, emergency shelters are temporarily adding 150 beds in an effort to safeguard hundreds of homeless.

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US fire officials have said that a deadly wildfire which claimed the lives of 19 firefighters is now 45 percent under control. The blaze in the state of Arizona has engulfed thousands of acres including large parts of the town of Yarnell.