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Heat wave now a killer in Ohio after 3 deaths

Jul. 06, 2012 @ 08:21 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s heat wave has turned deadly, a coroner said Friday as he blamed excessive temperatures for the deaths of three people found alone in their homes earlier this week.

The state Health Department urged people to check on friends and family.

Violent storms that accompanied the high temperatures also contributed to two more deaths this week, including a Toledo area man killed Thursday when an uprooted tree fell on the car he was in.

Forecasts continued to call for triple-digit temperatures as some cities broke heat records. Temperatures in Columbus hit 100 degrees Friday.
A man in his 70s was found dead Monday in the city of Newark, about 40

miles east of Columbus, and two women — one in her late 60s, the other in her 80s — were found Tuesday in rural parts of the county, said Dr. Jeff Lee, Licking County deputy coroner.

He said all three were suffering from heart disease but died from stress caused by high temperatures in their houses. Temperatures inside were stifling, recorded in the 90s in two cases, with windows shut and no ventilation. The houses lacked electricity because of the recent power outages.

Customers of American Electric Power-Ohio in the Newark area have been among the last to have their power restored.

“The reason why these people died is because they were all in their homes with all the windows and doors shut, with no ventilation, and with no electricity, they couldn’t run fans,” Lee said.

“If they had gotten cooling, we would have expected them to survive,” he said.

The Health Department’s safety campaign urged Ohioans to look in on people to be sure they are all right and know how to survive the heat.

Utility crews hoped to have power restored to the majority of Ohio customers by the end of the day Saturday, but they acknowledged that many would still have to wait at least another day.

Efforts were hampered by another day of scorching temperatures and new rounds of storms, including one in northwest Ohio, where an uprooted tree fell on a car, killing a man inside. A second storm in the Columbus area late Thursday cut power to 11,000 residents, some of whom had previously lost power and had it restored. All but about 2,000 of those had power back Friday.

American Electric Power-Ohio had a total of about 82,000 customers without power Friday, mostly in central and southwest Ohio. The utility said the recent storms have far surpassed the damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike four years ago. It said it was on schedule to have power restored by midnight Saturday to 95 percent of the 660,000 customers affected by the storms.

The heat wave has left residents longing for their air conditioning and has complicated repairs. Four utility workers have been hospitalized for heat exhaustion, according to AEP-Ohio. The job is getting harder and more dangerous as workers make their way into areas of rough, wooded terrain, AEP-Ohio spokeswoman Terri Flora said.

A powerful storm that hit the Toledo area left about 22,000 FirstEnergy customers without power Thursday afternoon.

In the northwest Ohio village of Holland, Christopher Zimmerman, 35, was killed when an uprooted tree fell on the car he was sitting in, according to a report by Lucas County Coroner’s Office investigator Bob Maxwell.

Previously, a 70-year-old woman died June 29 in Muskingum County when a barn collapsed after she had gone to check on animals during the storm.

Utilities say last week’s storm that left people without power from Illinois to New Jersey was a system known as a “derecho,” a long-lasting wind storm that travels for hundreds of miles with the damage usually following a straight path.

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