Concerns about potential future blackouts amid a heatwave in Western US and Canada have lingered after Avista Utilities, an electricity provider in Spokane, Washington, had to resume rolling blackouts amid high power demands.
Around 9,300 customers of the electrical utility lost power on Monday, with the company saying more planned blackouts were carried out on Tuesday.
It comes as residents across the US Pacific Northwest and parts of Canada continue to struggle with record-breaking heat, with hundreds of deaths potentially tied to the heatwave.
Among those who have died is a migrant worker from Guatemala who was found unresponsive on Saturday while working outside at Ernst Nursery and Farms, a wholesale supplier in St Paul, roughly 30 km north of Salem.
The man, who has not yet been identified, had only just arrived in the US a few months ago, Andres Pablo Lucas, the owner of Brother Farm Labor Contractor, which connected workers with the nursery, including the man who died, told The Associated Press.
While the cause of his death is still unclear, it is believed it could have been related to the sweltering temperatures that day.
Lisa Lapointe, British Columbia’s chief coroner, said there had been a minimum of 486 “sudden and unexpected deaths” over the five days to Wednesday.
This comes after Lytton, a village in the province, recorded the highest-ever temperature in Canada earlier this week, with the mercury reaching 49.6C. It was evacuated on Wednesday, after it became engulfed by a fast-moving wildfire.
The temperatures are particularly high due to a phenomenon known as a “heat dome”, which traps hot air and does not allow other weather systems to move in.