A deputy in the Canadian Parliament said that 90 percent of the village of Lytton has been devastated by fires, after temperatures recorded their highest ever.
Representative Brad Weiss added that the fires caused extensive damage to Leighton, British Columbia, as well as destroying the surrounding vital infrastructure.
Jan Polderman, the mayor of Lytton, told the BBC he was “lucky to have survived”.
“There isn’t much left of Lytton, the fire is everywhere,” he added.
Bolderman told the BBC his town had been engulfed by a “wall of fire”.
He had earlier ordered the citizens to evacuate the village, saying that the fire spread throughout in just 15 minutes.
This week, the village recorded the highest temperature rise ever in Canada, reaching 49.6 degrees Celsius.
An unusual rise in temperatures was also recorded in large areas of North America.
British Columbia, located in western Canada, recorded 486 deaths over five days, compared to an average of 165 deaths in normal times.
Lisa Lapointe, a forensic official, blamed the bad weather. The county has seen three heatwave-related deaths in the past three to five years.
La Pointe said many of those who died were living alone in poorly ventilated homes.
Temperatures are lower in coastal areas of Canada, but inland regions do not know much moderation, as the weather system is now moving east over the provinces of “Prairie”, and warnings have been issued from Environment Canada about a heat wave for the regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and parts of Manitoba.
What happened in Leyton?
Residents fled on Wednesday, many without their belongings, after smoke and fire engulfed the village of about 250 people 260 km northeast of Vancouver.
“Within 15 minutes, the whole city was on fire,” Mayor Bolderman told the BBC.
“People took their pets, their keys, got into their car and fled,” he added.
Winds of up to 71 kilometers per hour pushed the flames north toward the village on Wednesday evening, said Joanna Wagstaff, a meteorologist at CBC.
Rep. Brad Weiss said in a social media post on Thursday that he did not attend the “Canada Day” activities because he was devoting all of his time to the emergency.
He wrote: “There have been reports of several injuries, and the situation continues.”
Authorities directed residents to nearby villages with setting up reception centers, while the British Columbia Fire Service continued to send in crews and equipment from other areas to control the fires.
Jan Mackay, who left the First Nation in Kanaka Bar, about 15 kilometers from Lytton, with her 22-year-old daughter Deirdre, told CBC about how difficult it was psychologically to leave their home.
She said, “I cried, and my daughter cried, and she said I don’t even know why she held my key, we might not have a house. I said yes I know. As long as we’re together we’ll live. I just pray that our homes are all right.”
“It’s hard to understand,” Edith Loring-Kohanga, a resident who left Lytton, told CBC Radio. “Our village has completely disappeared.”
Before the fires broke out, Lytton had recorded the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada for three consecutive days.
How dangerous is a heat wave in other places?
In Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia, it is believed that heat has been a contributing factor in the deaths of 65 people since Friday.
The city has opened 25 air-conditioned centers, so people can rest or work from their laptops.
“I don’t have air conditioning, I have a fan in the house, I just came here to work in a great place,” a woman told AFP news agency.
In the US state of Oregon, health officials have linked more than 60 deaths to the extreme heat, while in Washington state, 20 deaths were said to be due to the weather, according to the Associated Press.
And the cities of Seattle, Portland and other cities recorded records in terms of high temperatures, exceeding 46 degrees Celsius in some places.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden warned of the danger of fires, and Biden told governors of western US states that the temperatures were “severe than ever.”
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