The Oregon State Medical Examiner has published the 2020 Oregon Wildfire Mobile Morgue Operations: Lessons Learned and Preparation for Future Mass Fatality Response report. – view full report

This document details the mobile morgue operations and State Medical Examiner’s response to the wildfires in September 2020. It outlines the successes, challenges, and lessons learned in fatality management during this incident. It also highlights the amazing partnerships at the federal, local, and state level as well as the countless volunteers that allowed for uninterrupted operations.

On September 7, 2020, a series of high-wind events and dry conditions triggered the spread of multiple fires across the state of Oregon. By the morning of September 8th, the Holiday Farm, Beachie Creek, Lionshead, S. Obenchain, and Almeda fires were burning out of control in Lane, Linn, Marion, and Jackson counties. The Oregon State Police Medical Examiner Division began preparation for a mass fatality event. Initial estimates projected upwards of 200 deaths. In the end, the total number of deaths related to the wildfires was confirmed at 9. The primary purpose of setting up the Mobile Morgue was to identify decedents and reunite them with their families as soon as possible. The Medical Examiner’s Office describes a Mobile Morgue as more than a place to temporarily store decedents, as it was set up and used to perform complete medical examiner autopsy services.

This report details the Medical Examiner’s Office response and deployment of the Mobile Morgue Unit from September 8-22, 2020.