Temperatures reached 102 degrees by 2 p.m. in Sultan and continued to rise Monday. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Temperatures reached 102 degrees by 2 p.m. in Sultan and continued to rise Monday. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Yes it’s hot, and so is the market for some cool air

Seeking anywhere with air conditioning, residents find ways to beat heat.

EVERETT — After a weekend getaway, Dustin DeKoekkoek and his family returned home Sunday evening to a sweltering house. Like most Washingtonians, the family had no air conditioning.

“Last night was pretty miserable in our house,” the Mountlake Terrace resident said Monday morning.

DeKoekkoek spent Sunday night looking for an air-conditioning unit on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, but saw them selling for three or four times the retail price.

“If they were reasonably priced, it seems like people were getting hundreds of messages within minutes,” DeKoekkoek said.

DeKoekkoek was one of thousands still seeking a break from the heat Monday. People sought various ways to find the county’s most precious commodity: air conditioning. Nearly 90% of American households have it, according to the 2015 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey. In the Seattle metropolitan area, however, that number drops to about one-third of households.

By 7 a.m. Monday, Hotel Indigo in Everett had already turned away “three or four dozen people” hoping to check in and beat the heat, said Kendra Fanning, a guest service agent at the waterfront hotel at the Port of Everett.

“Most of them were callers who asked if we have air conditioning,” Fanning said. “Unfortunately, we had to turn them down.”

The air-conditioned, 142-room hotel is entirely filled. On Monday afternoon more than a dozen people were on a waiting list in case of a room cancellation, Fanning said.

Calls to the hotel picked up “when it hit the 90s,” she said.

Air-conditioned buildings across the county became cooling centers. On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee lifted COVID-related capacity limits at cooling centers run by public agencies and nonprofits.

The Sno-Isle Libraries system turned many of its branches into cooling centers over the weekend. The libraries asked people to wear masks inside but didn’t limit the number of people who could enter the building.

Due to the excessive heat, branches extended Sunday hours. The Lynnwood Library had a line of people waiting outside before it opened at 10 a.m. Sunday. Marysville staff stayed an hour past extended closing hours to give people more time in the AC.

“I think everyone is frustrated with the heat,” said Sno-Isle Libraries spokesperson Kurt Batdorf. “We’re doing what we can to support customers and keep them healthy and cool.”

Many branches, but not all, saw a large increase in patrons, Batdorf said. At Mill Creek, traditionally one of the busiest branches, every table was in use Sunday. In Mukilteo, staff told Batdorf that “every available surface is being used right now.”

Batdorf didn’t see a common thread of why certain branches saw more traffic than others. While Darrington experienced high temperatures, for example, the library was surprisingly quiet. Batdorf guessed people opted to cool off in the river.

“It’s just been a very weird heatwave,” Batdorf said. “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen anything this hot, this early in the year.”

DeKoekkoek, still seeking an AC unit Monday morning, arrived at the Lynnwood Lowe’s at 6:30 a.m. The night before, he’d seen hundreds of AC units at his local store. He attempted to buy one, but an employee told him they were reserved for other stores in the county.

“I decided my best chance was to get to Lowes early this morning,” DeKoekkoek said.

Thirty or 40 people were already in line when DeKoekkoek arrived. After half an hour or so, an employee told the line that a shipment of 90 units was on its way. The Mountlake Terrace resident walked out with a unit by 7:30 a.m.

Now, DeKoekkoek, his wife, two daughters and the family dog are staying in the bedroom where they keep the AC unit. It brought the temperature down to 71, he said.

“I think the only time I’ve experienced weather this hot was in Phoenix,” DeKoekkoek said. “I hope people out there are able to stay safe and stay cool.”

Reporter Janice Podsada contributed to this story.

Katie Hayes: katie.hayes@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @misskatiehayes.

Katie Hayes is a Report for America corps member and writes about issues that affect the working class for The Daily Herald.

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