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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Canada fires intensify, more residents set to evacuate

About 35,000 people have been ordered to evacuate wildfire areas across Canada's western province of British Columbia, with more preparing to follow.




Record-setting wildfires in Canada's western province of British Columbia are expected to push more people out of their homes as firefighters battle unruly blazes that have destroyed properties and closed parts of a major national highway.


The province imposed an emergency late on Friday, giving officials more power to deal with fire risks. 


By Saturday, more than 35,000 residents were under an evacuation order and another 30,000 were under an evacuation alert.


The McDougall Creek fire is centred around Kelowna, a city some 300 kilometres east of Vancouver, with a population of about 150,000. 


But other blazes, exacerbated by severe drought, have been reported closer to the United States border and in the US Pacific Northwest.


Ministers and government officials urged residents living in evacuation order zones to take immediate action, in the interest of their lives and those of the firefighters.


British Columbia Premier Daniel Eby also imposed a ban on non-essential travel on Saturday to free up accommodation for evacuees and firefighters. 


Authorities urged people to avoid travelling to fire zones and operate drones to take pictures, which they said would hamper the work of firefighters.


Officials have not yet given any estimates of the total number of buildings destroyed.

Forest fires are not uncommon in Canada, but the spread of blazes and disruptions underscore the severity of its worst wildfire season yet.


The fires have drained local resources and drawn in federal government assistance as well as support from 13 countries.


At least four firefighters have died in the line of duty.


About 140,000 square km of land, roughly the size of New York state, have already been scorched nationwide, with smoky haze extending as far as the US East Coast. 


Government officials project the fire season could stretch into autumn due to widespread drought-like conditions.


Some 2000km to the north, a wildfire burning out of control in Yellowknife, the capital city of Northwest Territories, had triggered evacuations of almost all of its 20,000 residents last week.


Currently, the fire is not expected to reach city limits by the end of the weekend, officials said, with some rain and cooler temperatures helping to slow its progress.


In B.C., The TransCanada highway was closed near Chase, about 400km northeast of Vancouver, and between Hope, 150km east of Vancouver, and the village of Lytton. 


The highway is the main east-west artery used by thousands of motorists and truckers heading to Vancouver, the country's busiest port.


Kip Lumquist, who works at a gift shop in Craigellachie, a tourist spot on the highway, said she saw a lot of devastation in the past week.


"It was crazy, we couldn't see the hills, the mountains, the trees, anything, probably (for) two and a half days," said Lumquist. 


"I drive a white vehicle, and when I walked out to get in my car ... it's just black ... It's devastating to the community."


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