ARIZONA NEWS

Heat deaths edge up in Maricopa County, 9 confirmed

Jun 30, 2021, 5:15 PM | Updated: Jul 1, 2021, 8:08 am

A person waits for a bus in the shade as the heat wave in the Western states continues Thursday, Ju...

A person waits for a bus in the shade as the heat wave in the Western states continues Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX (AP) — Heat deaths are edging up in Arizona’s largest county during an unusually hot, early start to the state’s sizzling summer, with nine confirmed and another 75 under investigation.

Maricopa County data through Saturday indicates many deaths being studied occurred during the week of June 12-19, which coincided with a heat wave that pushed temperatures to 118 (48 Celsius).

By this time last year, the county had confirmed four heat deaths and were investigating another 39.

Seven of the nine people confirmed to have died from the heat this year were indoors. Almost all had air conditioners that either didn’t work or were turned off. One person didn’t have electricity.

The majority were 50 or older.

Heat deaths in the county of 4.6 million have risen dramatically in recent years, with 323 reported last year, the highest recorded.

Heat causes more deaths in the U.S. than all other natural disasters combined. Scientists expect more frequent and intense heat waves because of climate change and the worst drought in modern history.

A 72-year-old woman died in 2018 at her Phoenix-area home after Arizona’s largest electric utility turned off her service for failure to pay $51.

The death led to moratoriums on overdue electrical bills.

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Heat deaths edge up in Maricopa County, 9 confirmed