An emergency has been declared as devastation in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, the latest wildfires across the country.
Firefighters have battled raging wildfires ravaging two metropolitan areas in western Canada – blazes that have sent tens of thousands fleeing in just days.
An out-of-control fire in southern B.C. grew more than a hundredfold in 24 hours.
With conditions still rapidly deteriorating through Friday evening, British Columbia Premier Daniel Ibe declared a province-wide state of emergency to reach temporary official powers to address fire-related risks.
“This is a historic wildfire season for British Columbia,” Ibe said at a media briefing. “Declaring a state of emergency… conveys to people across the province the seriousness of the deteriorating situation.”
Fires are also burning near Lytton in Fraser Canyon — devastated by wildfires in 2021 — and Invermere in southeast B.C.
The devastating fires in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories are the latest in a summer of dramatic wildfires across the country.
Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, has been turned into a ghost town after nearly all of the city’s 20,000 residents fled.
Environment Minister Shane Thompson said the evacuations took place over a 48-hour period, with about 15,000 departures in convoys and 3,800 departures on emergency flights.
There are fears the only escape route may be cut off, as some 2,600 people are left behind, including emergency teams, firefighters, utility workers and police officers, along with residents who have refused to leave.
More than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) south in British Columbia, Kelowna, a city of 150,000 in the Okanagan Valley, has also been burned.
Fires have already destroyed many properties in West Kelowna, which separates Okanagan Lake from its larger neighbor of the same name.
Emergency Management Minister Bowen Ma said the number of people under evacuation order in British Columbia was 15,000 overall. Thousands in the area have been ordered to flee or told to prepare to leave at any moment.
Canada continues to suffer a record fire season that has killed four people so far and choked with smoke in parts of the United States.
All told, there have been more than 5,700 fires that have burned more than 137,000 square kilometers (53,000 square miles) from one end of Canada to the other, according to Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.
In addition, the fires have released an unprecedented amount of carbon dioxide.
Scientists say that human-caused global warming is exacerbating natural disasters, making them more frequent and deadly.
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