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Sunday, May 19, 2024

30,000 Homes In British Columbia Forced To Evacuate Due To Wildfires

Overnight, two massive flames in the Shuswap region combined, destroying blocks of houses and other structures. Travel to the waterside city of Kelowna has been restricted to the south while smoke from adjacent fires lingers over Lake Okanagan. 

Homes in West Kelowna, a neighbouring city of 36,000 people, have been scorched by fires. The travel restrictions in and around Kelowna are intended to provide adequate lodging for evacuees and emergency personnel. 

It applies to Kamloops, Oliver, Penticton, Vernon, and Osoyoos. A massive fire continues to burn hundreds of kilometres north of Yellowknife.  

Wildfire Crisis Sweeps Across British Columbia: 30,000 Homes Under Evacuation Orders

An Evacuation Order Is Issued For 30,000 Households In A Canadian Province
Credit: Reuters

On Friday, an official deadline to evacuate the city – the capital of Canada’s North-west Territories – passed. Later that day, a local official stated that practically all inhabitants had gone by automobile or plane. 

Around 19,000 of the city’s 20,000 residents had fled. Authorities announced on Friday evening that 39 patients were transferred from a hospital to alternative facilities, making them the last persons to be evacuated from the city.

An Evacuation Order Is Issued For 30,000 Households In A Canadian Province
Credit: Reuters

Shane Thompson, the environment and communities minister, said some people had opted to “shelter in place,” but he advised residents to escape. 

Evacuation orders in British Columbia increased from 15,000 on Friday to 30,000 by Saturday evening. Another 36,000 houses have been ordered to evacuate. Officials “cannot emphasize strongly enough how critical it is to follow evacuation orders,” according to the province’s emergency management minister. 

“They are a matter of life and death not only for the people in those properties, but also for the first responders who will frequently go back to implore people to leave,” Bowinn Ma added. Premier David Eby said that 35,000 people had been ordered to leave, with another 30,000 advised to prepare to evacuate.

An Evacuation Order Is Issued For 30,000 Households In A Canadian Province
Credit: Reuters

As per the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season, with at least 1,000 flames raging nationwide. According to experts, climate change increases the likelihood of hot, dry weather that fuels wildfires. 

Extreme and long-lasting heat takes more and more moisture from the earth, fueling flames that can spread at breakneck speed, especially if winds are strong. 

Although no fatalities have been reported in the most recent flames, at least four firefighters have died throughout this record-breaking season.

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