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Hundreds of deaths reported across Canada and the Pacific Northwest amid unrelenting heat wave

By Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Coastal areas in the Pacific Northwest have seen the worst of record-breaking heat, but millions in eastern Washington and Oregon are still under heat advisories through the upcoming weekend.

Hundreds of deaths have been reported across the Pacific Northwest and Canada amid the unrelenting heat wave that has also swept through parts of America’s Northeast.

At least 486 sudden deaths have been reported in Canada, a 195% increase in deaths that would typically happen in a five-day period.

“While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to extreme weather (British Columbia) has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province,” British Columbia Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement.

And while the heat is expected to let up on the US East Coast, more than 4.5 million people in eastern Washington and Oregon are under heat alerts that are likely to last through at least Friday and in some areas until Sunday, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy.

The Canada heat, which reached the country’s highest recorded temperature of 121 on Tuesday in British Columbia, is expected to subside by early next week.

“A colder air mass will be moving into eastern Canada by Tuesday and the Canadian portion of the heat wave will be over by then,” Guy said.

While Boston and New York have experienced record-breaking heat, temperatures on the East Coast dropped Wednesday night, and heavy rain is expected for that region on Thursday.

Both the US and Canada are experiencing wildfire threats.

At least 41 fires burning in British Columbia, Canada, and 16 of those have were ignited in the last two days, according to the B.C. Wildfire Dashboard. The province saw a total of 416 fires so far this year, the B.C. Wildfire Service said

The West in the US remains hot and dry, creating the perfect conditions for wildfires to flourish. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 47 wildfires have burned 667,566 acres across a dozen states, including Arizona, California and Utah.

Scientists have told CNN the heat wave is a clear sign of the climate crisis, and similar extreme heat events will happen more frequently in the future.

Record-breaking heat wave scorches Northwest

Temperatures are expected to remain above normal over much of the Northwest heading into the weekend, but the record-setting heat will slowly subside.

Portland set an all-time, record-high temperature three days in a row, topping out at 116 degrees on Monday.

Seattle hit 108 degrees, also breaking the all-time record it set just a day earlier. At least two locations in Washington reached 118 degrees, which, if confirmed, would tie the state temperature record that dates back to 1928.

The King County, Washington, medical examiner’s Office on Wednesday reported 11 heat-related deaths and one drowning. There were also 105 emergency department visits for heat-related illness on Tuesday, with 32 admitted to hospitals.

Two people died in Spokane after experiencing symptoms consistent with heat-related stress, city spokesman Brian Coddington said. A man in his 70s, was found by firefighters in an apartment building downtown, Coddington said.

Spokane hit 109 degrees, breaking the previous record of 108 degrees set on August 4, 1961, according to National Weather Service Spokane.

In Oregon, a farm worker in St. Paul, about 30 miles south of Portland, died Saturday, during the heat wave, a spokesperson for the state Occupational Safety and Health told CNN. The man was working on a crew moving irrigation lines when he was found unresponsive in the field, the spokesperson said.

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CNN’s Amir Vera, Angela Fritz, Carma Hassan Sarah Moon, Jon Passantino, Jackson Dill, Taylor Ward, Joe Sutton, Melissa Alonso, Phil Gast, Rebekah Riess and Brisa Colon contributed to this report.

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