As heat builds, blast saps power in Morgan City

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Crews in the coastal oil city of Morgan City worked to repair the city's power system as another day of scorching heat dawned on Wednesday.

A transformer explosion at the city's steam power plant Tuesday night left almost all of Morgan City's 12,500 residents in darkness. Fewer than 5 percent of the city's homes and businesses have backup generators, Mayor Tim Matte estimated.

Nursing homes and the city's hospital do have such generators, usually needed when a hurricane strikes.

A shelter for residents with medical needs, such as power to refill oxygen tanks, opened in nearby Berwick. Nobody showed up there Tuesday night, but it was open Wednesday and Berwick's two hotels were full of Morgan City residents, Chief Administrative Officer Newell Slaughter said.

Morgan City's water and wastewater service were online but residents were asked to use them sparingly because older diesel generators power those plants and the 27 pumps that push wastewater to the treatment plant, Matte said.

Across Louisiana on Tuesday, temperatures soared. New Orleans hit 102, three degrees over a June 26 record set in 1893. Fort Polk had an unofficial temperature of 102, tying a record from 1930. Shreveport tied an 1875 mark at 101 degrees. The same temperature in Baton Rouge broke a record from 1930 and in New Iberia tied a record from 2009.

In Lafayette, an 11-month-old boy died in a hot truck. The baby's father forgot that he was supposed to take him to day care Monday and left him in the truck while he went to work, Capt. Kip Judice said.

The heat wave was expected to continue, sparking caution warnings to people who work outdoors.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)