The residents of a village in Canada’s British Columbia province have been ordered to evacuate after a wildfire sparked by the country’s hottest-ever temperatures ripped through homes and other buildings.
On Wednesday evening, Mayor of Lytton Jan Polderman issued an evacuation order after a high of 49.6C (121.1F) was registered there on Tuesday – a new record for Canada.
If you want a sense of how quickly the fires in #Lytton and #Kamloops grew, here is the last 12 hrs of satellite footage over southern BC. #BCWildfirepic.twitter.com/xDIrlnkMns
“It’s dire. The whole town is on fire,” Polderman told CBC News after asking all residents to move to a “safe location.”
“It took, like, a whole 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to, all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere,” he added.
Here’s video of people escaping Lytton as fire rips through the village, posted by 2 Rivers Remix Society. The destruction and tragedy are unfathomable. #LyttonBC#Lyttonpic.twitter.com/OEPl4jRXsr
Dramatic footage from Lytton, a community of around 250 people, showed the fire tearing through homes, cars, and what appeared to be a shop.
The flames also engulfed woodland areas, sending large plumes of black smoke into the air, severely reducing visibility on nearby roads.
Lytton, situated about 260km (162 miles) northeast of Vancouver, also experienced record temperatures for Canada on Sunday and Monday.
On Wednesday evening, winds of up to 71km/h (44mph) pushed a nearby blaze into the village, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.
Starting on Sunday, Canada, and some areas of the US, including Portland, have been blasted by a heatwave.
Hundreds of people have died amid the rising temperatures, including in British Columbia, which has registered 486 deaths in the past five days, compared to its usual 165 fatalities at this time of year.
The province’s wildfire service said it had responded to the blaze in Lytton and confirmed on Thursday that there were four general clusters of multiple wildfires across British Columbia.
“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,” it said in a statement.
Before the scenes in Lytton, at least three major wildfires were burning in British Columbia, with 26 blazes having started between Tuesday and Wednesday alone.
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