Heat, smoke drive 500,000 people to San Diego beaches

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SAN DIEGO — More than half a million people flocked to San Diego beaches over the three-day holiday weekend, according to San Diego lifeguards.

Lt. Andy Lerum said it was one of the largest Labor Day weekend crowds he has seen in recent history. Many people said they were at the beach to escape the sweltering heat.

“It’s been like an oven out there in Spring Valley,” Carter Haynes told FOX 5. Hayes said he also welcomed the fresh air after enduring smoke from the Valley Fire near Alpine over the weekend.

“You could smell it. It was getting bad,” Haynes said.

According to Lt. Lerum, lifeguards made nearly 200 water rescues and responded to more than 45 medic calls during the three-day weekend, many related to the heat.

“We had people get dehydrated and exhausted, trying to walk up the trail at Black’s Beach for example,” Lt. Lerum said.

Lifeguards took 20,000 “preventative actions” including giving beachgoers reminders about rules, safety warnings and social distancing.

Lt. Lerum said the COVID-19 pandemic also may have played a role in high beach attendance this Labor Day.

“A big factor too is that school usually opens up the next day,” Lt. Lerum said. “This year is a little unique in that we don’t know yet what that impact will look like, nor are all people back to work yet.”

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