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Oregon heat wave death toll grows to 116

The majority of deaths reported by the state so far are in Multnomah County where 72 people have died due to heat since June 25.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The number of people in Oregon who died during the historic heat wave that began last month has grown to 116, the state medical examiner said Wednesday.

The majority of deaths reported by the state so far are in Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous. At least 72 people there have died due to heat since June 25.

Marion County has reported 13 deaths, Clackamas County has reported 12 deaths, Washington County has reported nine deaths, Deschutes County has reported two deaths, Linn County has reported three deaths, Columbia County has reported two deaths, and Umatilla, Union and Polk counties have reported one death each.

The number of deaths could continue to grow as counties report more information.

The heat wave began Friday, June 25. Portland set new heat records on three consecutive days, peaking at 116 degrees on June 28.

In Multnomah County, most of the people who died had underlying health conditions, officials said. The majority died in their homes with no fans or air conditioning. Their preliminary cause of death is hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure to deal with heat.

RELATED: How do you know you're suffering from hyperthermia? Here are the signs

Between 2017 and 2019, there were only 12 deaths from hyperthermia statewide.

Clackamas County officials said at least nine of the 12 reported deaths were people who died in their homes. They either had no air conditioning or had air conditioners that were not working. One person who died was living in their vehicle.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said she was "heartbroken" to learn that Oregonians died. She said her office is working with state agencies to "gather more information" and review Oregon's response.

During the heat wave, Multnomah County opened three 24-hour cooling shelters, which likely saved lives. An estimated 1,000 people stayed in the county cooling centers during the Portland area’s three days of extreme, record-breaking heat.

In Southwest Washington, the Clark County Medical Examiner's Office estimated 5-10 people died due to the heat and has not yet updated that estimate.

RELATED: County officials, state leaders try to figure out what went wrong during historic heat wave