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Eleven Deaths in Spokane Area Linked to Record Heat

Courtesy of National Weather Service

In the aftermath of the record-breaking heat wave, the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s office has linked 11 deaths to the hazardous conditions.

The medical examiner has not yet completed autopsies on many of those death to confirm the cause.The Inland Northwest saw temperatures as high as 110 over the last several days, and many in the Pacific Northwest were without air conditioning, or power.

Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said medical calls doubled during the worst of the heat wave, and Friday's were about 45% higher than normal.

“The connection, or the nexus to a majority of these medical incident is heat," he said.

Schaeffer said firefighters have arrived to about a dozen reported deaths and found people who were often older, isolated, had mobility and serious health issues, and did not have air conditioning.

“I have never had this experience before. I came from, a long time ago, a major metropolitan city where we would have heat waves come through, and we would have deaths, but this has been staggering to our community, because we’re so small, we’re so isolated, and it’s certainly not a situation we like to be in, that’s for certain," he said.

The Northwest is still under a heat advisory which is expected to dissipate early next week. Schaeffer said he still expects some medical emergencies, however, because of how dangerous and destabilizing heat can be for those with pre-existing health conditions.

Cooling centers will still be available throughout the Spokane area through July 4.

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