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3 deaths now blamed on excessive heat in Las Vegas

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 8:45 a.m. HST, Jul 4, 2013

LAS VEGAS >> Two more deaths are being blamed on a blistering heat wave that has pushed daytime temperatures in Las Vegas to record and near-record highs since last weekend.

Wednesday's rulings by the Clark County coroner's office brought to three the number of confirmed heat-related deaths in and around Las Vegas since Saturday, said Nicole Gazza, aide to county Coroner Michael Murphy.

Heat may be a factor in at least five other deaths that are still being investigated. The causes may not be known until blood tests are completed in several weeks.

The siizzling heat continues today in southern Nevada, where an excessive heat warning remains in effect through 11 p.m.

Temperatures in the Las Vegas area are expected to reach or surpass 112 degrees today, continuing a heat wave that has hovered over much of the West for the past week.

Clark County officials say three cooling stations will open today to help the homeless and others escape the searing heat and stay hydrated.

Since Friday, emergency personnel around the Las Vegas Valley have responded to 278 emergency 911 calls involving heat-related incidents.

The death of a 59-year-old homeless man found a little after 6 p.m. Tuesday in a vacant lot in the West Las Vegas neighborhood was blamed on heat exposure. But the man also had complications from chronic alcoholism, according to the coroner's office. His name wasn't immediately made public. Temperatures reached 115 in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

The death of 80-year-old Donald Lee Morrow, who was found Tuesday in a parking lot outside the Riverside Casino in Laughlin, was from chronic pulmonary disease complicated by excessive heat, according to the coroner's office.

Temperatures reached a high of 111 degrees Tuesday in Laughlin, a Colorado River resort town about 100 miles south of Las Vegas.

Saturday's death of Toby McCracken, 66, was blamed on multiple heart and lung ailments complicated by exposure to 115-degree temperatures. He was found Saturday on a couch near a trash bin at an apartment complex in unincorporated Clark County east of the Las Vegas Strip. His motorized scooter was found parked nearby.

Coroner's investigators are still investigating the deaths of a 69-year-old man whose body was found Monday near a trash bin at a gas station off Sandhill Road southeast of downtown, a 41-year-old man found in a vacant lot off Las Vegas Boulevard between Charleston and Oakey boulevards, and a 44-year-old man with several medical ailments found in an apartment with no air conditioning off Tropicana Avenue several blocks west of the Las Vegas Strip.

Each of the cases may have been heat-related, Gazza said.

Causes are pending in weekend deaths of Winifred Forbes, 82, of Las Vegas, and Manuel Stanley Vargas, 26, of North Las Vegas.

Forbes was found dead Saturday in a home with no air conditioning.

Vargas was found dead Sunday after he was seen walking in a desert area near Nelson's Landing on the Colorado River. It wasn't immediately known if he was affected by heat that reached a record 120 degrees in parts of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

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