Story at a glance

  • A preliminary report by Oregon’s ​Multnomah County on the deaths reported during the record-breaking heat wave was released on Tuesday.
  • A majority of the deaths occurred among elderly men who lived alone and did not have central air conditioning.
  • The report examined the deaths of the 54 people who perished due to hyperthermia.

A preliminary report by Oregon’s ​Multnomah County found that a majority of the deaths reported during the record-breaking heat wave that began late last month were elderly men who lived alone and did not have central air conditioning.

In Portland, which is in Multnomah County, from June 25 and June 28 the city reached triple-digits, even hitting a high of 116 degrees. 

The report examined deaths from June 28 through July 9. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Office suspected hyperthermia in 71 deaths during this time. The report examined 54 cases where deaths were formally ruled as hyperthermia.

Hyperthermia occurs when the body’s temperature becomes dangerously high and overheats.


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Of those 54 deaths, 81.5 percent were ages 60 and older and 90 percent were white. The preliminary data states that 63 percent were males and 78 percent lived alone.

“Many of them were our elders, those who need our care the most and many were all alone,” Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury told The Associated Press.

No one who died had central air. 

“The heat that settled over our county, over our family and friends, was life-threatening,” said Kafoury, “and it arrived decades ahead of our best predictions for when this kind of climate disruption should first appear.”


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Published on Jul 14, 2021