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Chicago’s heat wave appears to have turned fatal. The 100-plus-degree temperatures claimed two men's lives, marking the first confirmed heat-related deaths of the season, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner.
Eugene Burns, of the 1200 block of South Fourth Avenue in Maywood, was pronounced dead Wednesday evening at Loyola University Medical Center in the western suburb. An autopsy conducted Thursday reportedly found the 53-year-old died of heart disease escalated by obesity and heat stress.
An autopsy done on John McCullough, 48, of the 2300 block of West Ainsle Street, concluded he died of the same diagnosis after he was pronounced dead at Swedish Covenant Hospital early Thursday morning.
Officials speculated the Tuesday death of a 95-year-old woman from South Green Street may have also been heat-related, but no evidence has been found. An autopsy conducted Wednesday was inconclusive, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
While Wednesday’s 102-degree temps tied the 1911 record high, Thursday's top temperature broke a record set that same year.
This summer’s excessively high temps have proven to be a health concern. With such high risks of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, experts caution against spending too much time in the sun.
"Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year," reads a statement on the National Weather Service's website. "In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995 more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat. In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives."