US heatwave: Millions endure searing heat as temperatures bake in Pacific Northwest and South

More than 30 million people in the United States were under various heat alerts early Thursday.

“The extreme heat is unfortunately expected to last into the weekend, with temperatures in some places still exceeding 20 degrees above average. This heat could break records in the Pacific Northwest,” the meteorologist said. from CNN, Robert Shackelford.

Parts of Washington and Oregon as well as Texas, Oklahoma and the Carolinas are expected to experience temperatures reaching the 90s and into the triple digits in the coming days.

“The heat will continue to be history, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where afternoon temperatures could exceed 110 degrees in the hottest areas of the interior section on Thursday and Friday,” said the Weather Prediction Center. wrote. “Nights will also be abnormally warm with record low temperatures possible.”

With the Seattle and Portland metro areas expected to experience heat in the mid-to-above 90s on Thursday and Friday, the governor of Oregon declared a state of emergency.

“With many areas of Oregon facing a severe heat wave, it is critical that every level of government has the resources it needs to help keep Oregonians safe and healthy,” said Governor Kate Brown said in a statement. Press release.

The extreme heat that has gripped parts of the country in recent weeks has had devastating consequences, including heat-related deaths and the worsening of relentless wildfires in some areas.

There were two suspected heat-related deaths in Oregon on Wednesday, the state medical examiner’s office told CNN in an email. The agency said the cause of death is preliminary and final confirmation could take several months.

Oregon and Washington state both saw an increase in heat-related ER visits this week as the heat wave intensified.

Oregon recorded 32 statewide heat-related illness visits Monday — up from the usual range of 3 to 5 per day, according to Jonathan Modie, communications manager for Oregon Health’s Public Health Division. Authority.

Heat-related EMS calls also increased in Oregon, with first responders receiving 12 calls Monday, up from five the day before, Modie added.

Similarly in Washington, data from the state health department shows two days “of increased ER visits for heat-related illnesses in eastern and western Washington,” the gatekeeper said. -word Jess Nelson.

The heat has also claimed lives in other parts of the country, as temperatures in some areas reached 100 degrees last week, due to sweltering humidity.

In New York, at least two people have died from heat exposure since Saturday, according to the city medical examiner’s office. They both had underlying health conditions, officials said.

In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a 73-year-old man was found dead last Thursday in a room with no air conditioning, according to a medical examiner. His cause of death was heat-related and he had several underlying medical conditions, the Lehigh County coroner told CNN. The heat index in Allentown that day reached 96 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

In Dallas, a 66-year-old woman who also had underlying health conditions became the county’s first heat-related death of the year, Dallas County health officials said. announcement Last week.

And a 22-year-old hiker died from possible dehydration and exposure after running out of water in a South Dakota national park last week, officials said.

Gabe DeBay, a medical services officer with the Shoreline Fire Department, buys lemonade from Kaellan Robberts and Aven Josephy on Tuesday in Shoreline, Washington.

Extreme heat fuels wildfires

As excessively high temperatures continue, firefighters in some areas are battling growing wildfires while coping with the sweltering conditions.

A wildfire in Woodward County, Oklahoma has grown to 18,000 acres amid scorching temperatures, according to Matt Lehenbauer, the county’s director of emergency management.

The fire, which is burning northeast of the town of Mooreland in central Oklahoma, has prompted intermittent evacuations as weather conditions fluctuate.

California Oak Fire destroys at least 42 structures as it burns over 18,000 acres near Yosemite National Park

“That area of ​​flat plains and the canyon area makes it dangerous for firefighters,” Lehenbauer told CNN on Wednesday.

Two firefighters working on the blaze were hospitalized with heat illness and others were treated at the scene, Lehenbauer said. “The issue of heat exhaustion is the biggest issue,” he added.

There is rain in the forecast, which could bring some relief, Lehenbauer noted. “Rain is really the only hope we have to manage this fire,” he said.

Meanwhile, the massive Fire Oak raging near Yosemite National Park in California burned 18,824 acres with 36% containment Wednesday night after being triggered on Friday, according to Cal Fire. Flames destroyed 100 structures in Mariposa County, firefighters said.

CNN’s Samantha Beech, Amanda Musa, Paradise Afshar, Jennifer Henderson, Andy Rose, Augie Martin, Taylor Romine and Brad Parks contributed to this report.

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