Newton sizzles in season’s first heatwave

It’s been a hot week.

Temperatures in Newton went from hot to hotter to even hotter than that, reaching 101 degrees by Thursday afternoon and producing the season’s first heatwave.

“And it’s only June,” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said as she walked down the hall near her office and candidates for state representative wrapped up a climate debate in the nearby sweltering hot War Memorial Auditorium.

And on Thursday evening, there was a fire at a house on Warwick Road that may have been caused by lightning.

Newton Police Lt. Amanda Henrickson said there hadn’t been an increase in weather-related calls, but there have been calls requesting well-being checks.

Henrickson said that police were out all week checking on unhoused people and helping them stay hydrated and get to places where they could keep cool.

VIDEO: How are you staying cool?

Schools had shortened days on Thursday and Friday, adding some extra messiness to an already chaotic school year.

“It is not lost on me how many times the school year’s events have impacted family routines,” Superintendent Anna Nolin wrote in an email to families announcing heat-related schedule disruptions. “I am firmly in the camp of canceling school and activities as rarely as possible, and only take these steps due to the extreme and dangerous nature of this heat wave to the overall health of our students and staff.”

Complicating matters, city buildings were closed for Juneteenth on Wednesday, so the Newton Free Library and Newton Senior Center—which have free admission and air conditioning and can be used as cooling spots—were closed. So there were few options to stay cool aside from shopping centers and cinemas.

The West Newton Cinema has served as a bit of an oasis in the community.

“The Cinema is cool and comfortable despite the heat, and seeing more customers than last week,” West Newton Cinema Foundation Board President Elizabeth Heilig said, adding that showing the films “Inside Out 2,” “Beethoven’s Nine” and “Ezra” probably helped fill seats, too.

Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, but the risk of heat-related illness are greater in people with underlying conditions.

Troy Evans, for example, has a heart condition. So he takes extra precaution in the heat, bringing a cooler with towels when he goes out.

“These people that are out having to work physical labor jobs in this kind of heat, I feel for them,” Evans said.