About 1,000 people were evacuated in western Canada, authorities said on Thursday, as fires raged amid an unprecedented heat wave, charring most of at least one town.
The province of British Columbia has recorded 62 new fires in the past 24 hours, premier John Horgan told a press conference. “I cannot stress enough how extreme the fire risk is at this time in almost every part of British Columbia,” Horgan said.
The town of Lytton, 250 km northeast of Vancouver, “has sustained structural damage and 90% of the village is burned, including the centre of town,” local MP Brad Vis said.
The village’s 250 residents were evacuated on Wednesday evening, one day after it set a jaw-dropping Canadian record high temperature of 49.6°C. The evacuation order was extended on Wednesday night to residents of 100 properties north of Lytton.
“The last 24 hours have been devastating for Lytton residents,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan wrote on Twitter, adding the Canadian armed forces “are ready to support residents as we move forward in the next steps.”
Meanwhile, 486 deaths had been reported in the province between June 25, a period in which about 165 deaths were documented. In Oregon, 63 deaths were attributed to the heat wave.