Oregon opens state’s first mobile morgue as wildfires claim 8 lives

Wildfires

Historic wildfires raging across the state have consumed approximately 1 million acres of land

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon State Police have opened their first-ever mobile morgue to help identify victims of wildfires, which have killed eight people so far.

The morgue is currently set up at an undisclosed location in Linn County, according to Capt. Tim Fox. About 40 people are working in the facility, including pathology, radiology and dental experts. The federal government is also providing resources, including a search and rescue team, and a rapid DNA test.

“They’ve flown people out here so that we can do DNA tests the same day in this facility,” Fox said, adding the goal is to “to make things quicker for the families because this is an unknown time and we want to give them the closure that we can as soon as possible.”

Tuesday, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) announced eight people had died in the fires. Officials had previously reported 10 deaths, but remains in two cases turned out to belong to animals.

Fox said the mobile morgue had helped identify some remains already, and encouraged anyone with missing loved ones to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office as soon as possible.

“Let them know so we can get those people entered into the database so that we can do this,” Fox said. “We understand some people won’t be entered, but if we can get the people that we know are missing entered, it will really help us out.”

At least 16 people have been reported missing in connection with the wildfires, according to an OEM factsheet released Tuesday. The fires have destroyed 1,145 homes and 579 other structures, and have burned approximately 1 million acres of land.

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