Despite the heat Friday afternoon, Bobby Ward, 62, got in his regular exercise thanks to the cooling center at Lexington's Dunbar Community Center.
"We're blessed to have this. More people ought to be taking advantage of it," Ward said, taking a break from walking laps around the center's gym to "keep in shape."
He was among a number of people who took advantage of the center's air-conditioned comfort Friday as the temperature in Lexington hit 102 degrees for the second straight day. It was even hotter elsewhere, with 109 degrees reported in Bowling Green, 105 in both Campbellsville and Louisville, and 104 in Winchester and Barbourville.
In the late afternoon and early evening Friday, high winds blew through parts of Northern, Central and Eastern Kentucky but brought little if any rain.
The blazing temperatures, combined with bone-dry conditions, prompted more communities to institute bans on fireworks or outside burning. Emergency calls associated with the heat kept Lexington firefighters busy throughout the day.
The fire department said one call involved a heat detector that went off in an attic. The detector was programmed to trigger an alarm if the temperature reached 150 degrees, firefighters said. The temperature in the attic hit 200 degrees.
The blistering weather even affected the student aviation program at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, which advised its instructors to consider limiting flights to the early morning and late afternoon Friday.
Program director Ralph Gibbs said the precaution was necessary because the midday heat made the air thinner, reducing the flying efficiency of the Cessna 172 light planes that the program uses.
Across the region, people sought relief at public and private swimming pools, or stayed indoors with the air conditioning cranked up high — if they had air conditioning. Those who didn't, and those who had to work outside, coped as best they could.
Weather officials said the temperature in Lexington will be near 102 again Saturday, and about 100 on Sunday.
Clark County banned fireworks Friday until further notice because dry conditions have made the fire risk too high, Judge-Executive Henry Branham said. Officials in Fayette and Madison counties said they're monitoring conditions.
The city of Corbin canceled its holiday fireworks display, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, citing the risk of fire. Officials said they hope to reschedule the display.
Also Friday, Garrard County joined the growing list of Kentucky counties that have banned outside burning because of drought conditions. More than 70 counties have implemented restrictions on outside burning, according to the state Division of Forestry.
Wildfire risk normally is low in June, but not this year. Lack of rain has left woods abnormally dry and vulnerable to fires.
"It has been nearly 25 years since we have seen this number of wildfires in the month of June," said Leah MacSwords, the state forestry director.
At the Dunbar Community Center, director Helen Smith said the center has been busy since Lexington officials designated it as a cooling center on Wednesday.
"We had about 16 kids from a child-care center who were here a little earlier," Smith said Friday afternoon. "It was too hot for them to play outside, so they came in to cool off with a drink of water. We had about 40 teenagers and young adults here Thursday night."
A few people came in simply to take naps on the cool concrete floor, she said.
Meanwhile, neighbors were stepping up to help during the heat wave.
Smith said a woman she knew only as "Mary" was driving around nearby neighborhoods Friday, passing out cold bottles of water to anyone who was hot and thirsty.
"She isn't with any group; it's just something she's doing herself," Smith said.
Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.