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The hot spell that has brought record temperatures to Utah is expected to continue at least for the next couple of days.

National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Carle said a high of 99 degrees was expected Thursday in the Salt Lake, Ogden and Provo areas.Temperatures have been in the mid- to upper 90s during recent days, contributing to the deaths of four buffaloes in Tooele County.

Tooele Army Depot has accepted responsibility for the dehydration deaths of four buffaloes this week and has assigned an independent investigator to the case, a depot spokesman said Thursday.

TAD spokesman Dave Hunt said the investigation will take at least a week.

The Humane Society of Utah is monitoring the investigation, said chief investigator John Paul Fox.

Depot officials said the buffaloes were found in a 270-acre fenced storage area for conventional ammunitions.

A security guard found the first buffalo's body Tuesday night in a pasture in the fenced area. A search turned up two more animals. The last buffalo, a female, was still alive when depot personnel found her Wednesday morning. She was given water and was reportedly able to walk but died within a few hours.

Tooele veterinarian Joe Roundy, who was called to the scene Wednesday morning, said all four animals died of dehydration. The animals' water trough was empty. The valves that allowed water to flow automatically into the tank had been turned off, possibly for as long as five days, depot officials reported. The tank is fed by a gravity flow system.

After checking the buffaloes and talking with base officials, Roundy said he believes the deaths were "more of an accident than neglect. They (base officials) were very proud of the buffaloes."

Hunt said the depot obtained the buffaloes in 1992 from Fort Wingate, N.M., a smaller depot that reports to TAD, after that depot was closed.

Roundy said larger buffaloes need 20 gallons of water a day during the winter and about 40 gallons per day during the summer. Buffaloes can generally survive four days without water, he said.

Necropsies were not ordered on the two male and two female buffaloes, the veterinarian said, because their tissues were so badly decomposed in the heat.

The mercury reached a high of 99 Wednesday at the Salt Lake International Airport. It was 98 in Tooele, 94 in Ogden and 91 at Hill Air Force Base.

It will be about 97 Friday and Saturday and cool down to about 88 degrees Sunday. But temperatures are expected to creep back to about the mid-90s Monday and Tuesday, Carle said.

The 99-degree reading in Salt Lake City Wednesday was not the hottest this summer. The mercury hit 102 last Saturday.

It was 114 Wednesday in St. George, 106 at Bullfrog Marina, 99 in Cedar City, 102 in Delta, 93 in Heber City, 105 in Green River and 95 in Richfield.

Partly cloudy weather and a slight chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms are forecast for southern Utah Friday. The temperature will reach about 110 Friday in St. George. It will be about 106 or 107 Saturday and will cool to about 102 Sunday and Monday, Carle said.