Weather Alert

Multnomah County Releases Preliminary Report On Heat Wave Deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County officials on Tuesday released a preliminary report about the people who died in the record late June heat wave.

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office found at least 54 people died from hyperthermia and its suspected as the cause of 17 more deaths.  Most of the victims were older, lived alone and did not have air conditioning or a fan.  Two people have been identified as homeless.

“I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of everyone who died. And I want them to know, we are resolved,” Kafoury said.  “In this report, and in the even-deeper reviews you will see in the coming months, we will find the lessons of this heat event.”

The county’s Public Health Division released this preliminary analysis.

Among the findings:

  • Most of those who died were older adults — the youngest was 48, and the oldest 97; the average age was 70.
  • Fifty of the 54 people confirmed to have died from hyperthermia were identified in preliminary investigations as white.
  • The vast majority of deaths occurred in the decedent’s own residence, more than half of which were multifamily dwellings.
  • Of all those who died in their homes, 78 percent lived alone.
  • Whereas about 80 percent of people in the Portland area have some level of air conditioning in their homes — and about 50 percent have central air — none of those who died had central air, and only eight people had a portable air conditioning unit. Of those eight individuals, at least seven had units that were unplugged or not working properly

Between Friday, June 25th and Monday, June 28th, more than 130 people in Multnomah County visited the hospital after getting sick in the heat.  Officials recorded the highest-ever number of 911 calls for medical emergencies over the weekend.  Hospitals reported two to five times the number of cases of cardiac arrest.  There were also 28 times the normal amount of calls to Multnomah County Animal Services between Friday and Tuesday.

Statewide, there were only 12 deaths from hyperthermia from 2017 to 2019.


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