Canadian heat wave triggers wildfires in British Columbia: NPR
British Columbia Forest Fire Department
The entire village of Lytton in the Canadian province of British Columbia was evacuated after a wildfire quickly engulfed the small town on Wednesday.
In his evacuation order, the mayor of the village, Jan Polderman, described “a fire in the village of Lytton” which “threatened the structures and the safety of the inhabitants”. About 250 people live in the city about 150 miles northeast of Vancouver.
Polderman told local media that the blaze “took about 15 minutes” to engulf the entire city shortly after issuing the evacuation order at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Polderman told CTV News he picked up a man before walking away from the burning village.
#DEVELOPMENT: New images show structures on fire in the town of Lytton, Canada, as numerous wildfires continue to rage in British Columbia. Video credit: 2 Rivers Remix Society on Vimeo. pic.twitter.com/RiFMPJbjYx
– UA News (@UrgentAlertNews) July 1, 2021
The forest fires come after nearly four days of extreme heat in the region. The Lytton evacuation came a day after the US 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 more fires
The province is currently fighting several forest fires, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service.
The flames that quickly consumed the community were part of a new blaze, not the separate and ongoing George Road blaze, covering an area of around 123 acres, already burning south of the city, said the forest firefighting agency.
Scott Hildebrand, executive director of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District told the Vancouver Sun, “It happened so quickly that we have a hard time connecting with everyone because the power is cut, cell phone lines are cut. It is a difficult situation.”
Quoting Jessica Mack, Fire Information Officer with the British Columbia Fire Department, the Vancouver Sun reported that there were four clusters of forest fires in the area, for a total of 16 individual fires.
The Cariboo Regional District issued an evacuation alert for Deka Lake, located 100 miles north of Lytton, after five new wildfires broke out in the area on Wednesday, according to the area’s fire department.
This heat-sensing imagery of British Columbia is hard to understand
Three absolute hells are tearing apart southern British Columbia, exhibiting very extreme fire behavior and incredible rates of spread threatening many different communities. #BCwx pic.twitter.com/gbRi4CjDDs
– US StormWatch (@US_Stormwatch) July 1, 2021
These wildfires started due to a severe thunderstorm that swept through the area, with lightning igniting the area’s dry grass, according to the Forest Fire Department.
“All these forest fires are being assessed and will be treated in a priority order”, the agency said on Twitter. “Ground crews, helicopters, tankers, volunteer firefighters and heavy equipment have responded and will continue to do so over the next few days.”
Much of western Canada remains under heat warning as the high pressure bubble moves east, the country’s weather service reports. These conditions are expected to last all weekend in parts of the country.