The Canadian armed forces are on alert this Saturday to help evacuate cities and fight more than 170 fires devastating British Columbia, fueled by a suffocating heat wave and drought in the west of the country and the United States.
At least 174 fires were active in the western province of British Columbia, of which 78 occurred in the past two days, according to the Canadian fire department. Seventy percent of the bulbs were produced by ultraviolet rays from heat, he noted.
This western province, whose climate is usually temperate and humid, have been climbing the thermometer for a week. At least 719 people have died in the heat wave, more than three times the usual, according to health authorities.
Across the border, the northwestern United States was also under this “heat dome,” a rare weather phenomenon exacerbated, according to experts, by the climate crisis.
The small community of Lytton, 250 kilometers northeast of Vancouver, has become the symbol of this crisis: after breaking the historical record for heat in Canada, with 49.6 degrees Celsius, it was prey to the flames that ravaged 90 percent. hundred of its territory.
Its 250 inhabitants had to flee quickly on Wednesday night, many of them unable to take anythinghe told CBC on Saturday, Gordon Murray, A neighbour.
Murray wasn’t overly concerned as there had been smoke in the area for several days. But the situation changed when he noticed that your neighbors were trying to turn off little spotlights in your backyard with a garden hose.
“It was then when we realized that it was serious and when the light stopped working we realized that we had no other option and we had to go. We took our wallets and got into the car,” he recalls, and says that he had to go through the town between flames and burning houses.
Other resident, Jeff Chapmansaid previously to CBC who watched helplessly as her parents died in the disaster when a lamppost fell on their shelter.
An indigenous official from the Lytton area, Matt Pasco, chairman of the tribal council of the Nlaka’pamux nation, criticized the authorities of the province. for having ignored the needs of his community.
Indigenous authorities must have tried to save lives with little or no help from the provincial government, said Pasco, for whom this is a sign of how provincial authorities treat indigenous peoples.
Heat wave spreads to other regions of Canada
The heat wave continued to expand on Saturday, also affecting the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as parts of the Northwest Territories and northern Ontario. Globally, the decade leading up to 2019 was the hottest on record, and the five hottest years have occurred since 2012, according to climate.gov.
Following a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Incident Response Group, which includes several ministers, Ottawa announced the creation of an operations center in Edmonton, in the west of the country, where 350 military personnel will offer logistical support.
Canadian forces must provide air assistance to transport firefighters or evacuate residents. Evacuation orders or evacuation alerts have been issued for various communities in British Columbia.
In the last days, the situation has worsened, due to the appearance of a rare phenomenon: pyrocumulus, the thunderclouds that form over sources of intense heat. As these in turn generate rays, they facilitate the creation of other sources.
The storms that have formed over the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta have generated more than 700,000 lightning strikes between Wednesday and Thursday, estimated the Finnish company Vaisala, which specializes in environmental measures.
Lightning was also recorded in California on Friday, where wildfires engulfed more than 15,000 hectares, including a tourist area that was preparing to receive numerous visitors during the long weekend of the national holiday of July 4.