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Two hikers die on same Death Valley trail just days apart as temperatures in California rocket


Two hikers have died on the same Death Valley trail just days apart amid rocketing summer temperatures in the area. 

On Saturday, Blake Chaplin, 52, from Kansas, was found dead on the Golden Canyon Trail in Death Valley National Park, California.   

A search-and-rescue team recovered the body after it was reported by an early morning hiker. His cause of death has not been revealed.

Two hikers have died on the same Death Valley trail just days apart amid rocketing summer temperatures in the area (file image) 

Days earlier, on August 18, the body of Lawrence Stanback, 60, of San Francisco, was recovered by park officials on the same trail. 

He is suspected of succumbing to heatstroke according to Fox News, but the  circumstances surrounding their deaths have not been reported.    

‘Although these temperatures may be cooler compared to the typical Death Valley Summer Day, precautions should still be taken while visiting in the heat,’ the park said in a statement. 

On August 15, mercury in Death Valley hit 130 degrees, and may have been the  hottest temperature on Earth ever recorded.  

The temperature was reached at 3.41pm Pacific time, according to the National Weather Service. 

If verified, the reading would break Death Valley’s previous August record by three degrees, the Weather Service tweeted. 

On Saturday, Blake Chaplin, 52, from Kansas, was found dead on the Golden Canyon Trail in Death Valley National Park, California, where another body was found days earlier

On Saturday, Blake Chaplin, 52, from Kansas, was found dead on the Golden Canyon Trail in Death Valley National Park, California, where another body was found days earlier 

On August 18, the body of Lawrence Stanback, 60, of San Francisco, was recovered by park officials on the same trail. He is suspected of succumbing to heatstroke (file image)

On August 18, the body of Lawrence Stanback, 60, of San Francisco, was recovered by park officials on the same trail. He is suspected of succumbing to heatstroke (file image) 

Death Valley currently holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth – a record set on July 10, 1913, of 134 degrees, and current temperatures are coming close. 

The roasting temperature came as a heat wave continues to grip much of the western United States.

More than 80 million people were under heat alerts Friday from the Central and Southern Plains as well as for nearly the entire West Coast.  

A deadly ‘heat dome’ capped North America’s hottest month of June on record, as wildfires continue to burn across the state. 

The ‘heat dome lasted from June 26 to July 1, killing 116 people in Oregon and another 78 in Washington State as temperatures soared up to more than 95 degrees.

It also caused some areas in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia to hit as high as 115 degrees.   

This comes after a family were found dead in an area of the Sierra National Forest known as Devil’s Gulch earlier this month. 

Signage warns of extreme heat danger inside Death Valley National Park in a file photo. The official temperature in the California national park hit 130 degrees in July

Signage warns of extreme heat danger inside Death Valley National Park in a file photo. The official temperature in the California national park hit 130 degrees in July

Investigators are probing phones belonging to Jonathan Gerrish, 45, or his wife, Ellen Chung, 31, in the hopes of finding a final recording that could solve the riddle of their deaths.  

Jeremy Briese, sheriff of Mariposa County, told The Times of London he was hoping the phones would reveal whether the couple made any phone calls or recorded any messages before their deaths.

‘We’ve searched from the air and foot and all over looking for anything that may give us a clue to what occurred,’ Briese said. ‘Basically it’s baffling and we’ve got to work through the different scenarios looking for answers.’

Gerrish, Chung, their one-year-old daughter Miju, and their dog Oksi were found by search teams.

Police are still awaiting the results of autopsy and toxicology reports following the deaths of Jonathan Gerrish, 45, or his wife, Ellen Chung, 31, which are expected to take several weeks

Police are still awaiting the results of autopsy and toxicology reports following the deaths of Jonathan Gerrish, 45, or his wife, Ellen Chung, 31, which are expected to take several weeks 

There were no signs of foul play and no traumatic injuries indicated at the scene, where Briese said, Miju was ‘in a backpack carrier near the dad, but not on the dad,’ and Chung was found about 30 yards away.

Officials had been looking into whether poisonous algae killed the family but lifted the hazmat declaration on Wednesday. The bodies of the family were airlifted out of the area that afternoon.  

Police are still waiting on the results of post-mortem examinations. Further toxicology reports could take up to six weeks. Autopsies and toxicology tests are planned for Thursday in Stanislaus County. 

Samples from their water bottles have also been sent to toxicology labs, and a necropsy on their family dog has been planned.

California State Water Resources Control Board and Mariposa County are now re-testing the river water for cyanobacterial toxins, which can form in algal blooms. 

Lake Tahoe records the worst air quality in the WORLD  

The air quality at the California vacation hotspot of Lake Tahoe has become the worst in the world after local wildfires.

Data from Purple Air, a company that sells home air quality monitors, shows that the air quality index at 530 for Lake Tahoe – by far the worst in the world. 

An air quality index of between zero and 50 is considered clean and healthy.

While 51-100 is considered moderate, and anything from 101 upwards is considered potentially dangerous.  

Federal air-quality data site AirNow reported its index showed South Lake Tahoe with air quality levels at 422 on a scale from 0-500 on Wednesday, an alarming and ‘hazardous’ number. 

Stunning photos from Lake Tahoe showed the dense, orange haze hanging above the pristine freshwater mountain lake caused by the massive 126,182-acre Caldor fire south of it. 

The Caldor Fire has now moved within 20 miles of Lake Tahoe, eating its way through rugged timberlands.

Since 2007, a major wildfire has not penetrated the Lake Tahoe Basin. 

But climate change has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists. 

Smoke from the Caldor Fire shrouds Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday

Smoke from the Caldor Fire shrouds Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday



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