Spokane County reports 17 heat wave related deaths

Officials in Washington’s Spokane County say the death toll from the past week’s heat wave has reached 17, about 10 more than previously reported.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday issued a press statement identifying 17 heat wave-related deaths in the eastern Washington county since last Thursday.

For comparison, between 2015 to 2020, Spokane County had only 13 total deaths due to heat exposure.

The statement said the dead ranged in age from 26 to 84 and include eight women and nine men. Most were found alone in houses or apartments without air conditioning.

RELATED: Death toll from record-breaking heat wave hits 116 in Oregon

Many of the victims had underlying health conditions, the medical examiner said. Some also had cognitive impairment or mobility problems.

"Unfortunately, I expect that the true number of deaths related to this extreme weather event will probably be higher before the end of summer and once all hospital deaths are examined," said Dr. Veena Singh, chief medical examiner for Spokane County.

Temperatures shattered previous all-time records during the heat wave that engulfed Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Canada, last week. Authorities say hundreds of deaths may ultimately be attributed to the heat throughout the region. In Spokane, the temperature hit a record of 109 degrees Fahrenheit on June 29.

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