The Deadly Heat Wave Is Triggering Dozens Of Wildfires In Western Canada
The entire village of Lytton in Canada's province of British Columbia was evacuated after a wildfire quickly took over the small town Wednesday.
In his evacuation order, the village's mayor, Jan Polderman described "fire in the village of Lytton" that "threatened structures and the safety of residents." Roughly 250 people live in the town about 150 miles northeast of Vancouver.
Polderman told local media outlets that the fire "took about 15 minutes" to engulf the entire town not long after he issued the evacuation order at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Polderman told CTV News he picked up one man before driving away from the burning village.
The wildfires come after nearly four days of extreme heat in the region. The evacuation of Lytton came a day after the U.S. National Weather Service noted this week that temperatures reached 121 degrees in the small town — a Canadian record.
British Columbia reports more than a dozen other fires
The province is currently fighting multiple wildfires, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service.
The flames that quickly consumed the community were part of a new fire, not the separate and ongoing George Road fire, about 123 acres in size, already burning south of the town, the wildfire service agency said.
Scott Hildebrand, chief administrative officer of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District told the Vancouver Sun, "It happened so quickly that we're struggling to connect with everybody because power is down, cellphone lines are down. It's a tough situation."
Citing British Columbia Wildfire Service fire information officer Jessica Mack, the Vancouver Sun reported there were four clusters of wildfires in the region — totaling 16 individual fires.
The Cariboo Regional District issued an evacuation alert for Deka Lake, which is 100 miles north of Lytton, after five new wildfires sprung up in the area Wednesday, according to the region's wildfire service.
This heat detection imagery of British Columbia is hard to fathom— US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) July 1, 2021
Three absolute infernos are tearing through southern British Columbia, exhibiting very extreme fire behavior and incredible rates of spread threatening many different communities. #BCwx pic.twitter.com/gbRi4CjDDs
Those wildfires started due to a severe thunderstorm that swept through the region, with lightning strikes igniting the dry grass in the area, according to the wildfire service.
"All of these wildfires are being assessed and will be actioned in a priority sequence," the agency said on Twitter. "Ground crews, helicopters, air tankers, members from volunteer fire departments and heavy equipment have responded and will continue to do so over the coming days."
Much of Western Canada remains under heat warnings as the bubble of high pressure moves east, the country's weather service reports. Those conditions are expected to last through the weekend in some parts of the country.
The warming climate is making heat waves more frequent and intense, scientists say.
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