Seven deaths in Oregon linked to heatwave as parts of Pacific Northwest remain under warnings

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Seven deaths in Oregon have been linked to a searing heatwave which seized the Pacific Northwest over the past week.

Among the dead was an elderly man in Clackamas County, Oregon. The Medical Examiner’s office is investigating his death as heat-related after he was found at home with a non-functioning air conditoner.

The other six suspected hyperthermia deaths occurred last week in Multnomah, Umatilla and Marion counties.

Cooling shelters in Portland, Oregon, remained open through Sunday night amid the sweltering conditions.

Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings remain in place in the Pacific Northwest and Northern High Plains through Monday evening, with the potential for numerous daily maximum temperature records, the National Weather Service said. Temperatures are expected to fall on Tuesday.

In the past seven days, it has hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 Celsius) or above four times at Eugene Airport, Oregon. It’s the second highest number of 100F-plus days in July on record in the state, after seven were registered in 2015.

Soaring temperatures, gusty winds and drought conditions have exacerbated the McKinney Fire on the California-Oregon border.

Since igniting on Friday, it has grown into California’s largest wildfire so far this year, destroying 82 square miles (212 sq km) in Siskiyou County, according to the state fire agency Cal Fire.

So far, 2,000 residents and hikers on the Pacific Crest trail have been evacuated. At least 12 homes have burned down.

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office reported that two people were found dead inside a burnt-out vehicle after the fire tore through a residential neighbourhood.

A closed sign is posted outside Rico Loverde's Monster Smash Burgers food cart in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday, July 27 (AP)
A closed sign is posted outside Rico Loverde's Monster Smash Burgers food cart in Portland, Ore., on Wednesday, July 27 (AP)

The bodies were discovered on Sunday morning west of the community of Klamath River. The sheriff’s office said they were in the process of identifying the bodies and notifying next-of-kin.

Last year, a deadly “heat dome” smashed temperature records across Canada and the western US, and left an estimated 800 people dead in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The July 2021 heatwave was made at least 150 times more likely by the climate crisis, a scientific analysis later concluded.

Heatwaves have become hotter and more frequent globally, found the latest assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global authority on climate science.

The IPCC also said that some extreme heat experienced in the past ten decade would have been “extremely unlikely to occur without human influence”.

AP contributed to this report

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