The majority of the small western Canadian hamlet of Lytton was burned by a forest fire that started after three days of record-breaking heat, as government officials issued new evacuation orders on Thursday as additional flames raged across the province.
More than 1,000 people were evacuated late Wednesday in and around Lytton, British Columbia, when a fast-moving fire overtook the hamlet and caught locals off guard. B.C. Premier John Horgan informed reporters that the cause of the incident was being examined.
According to Post Media, a couple in their 60s died in the fire, according to their son. The fatalities could not be independently verified by Reuters. Some individuals are missing, according to BC authorities, and “most homes and structures” in Lytton have been destroyed.
In a Facebook post, Brad Vis, a member of Parliament for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, said, “The town has experienced structural damage and 90% of the community has burnt, including the centre of the town.”
According to him, the fire also damaged BC Hydro stations and roads, preventing road access to Lytton.
In the last 24 hours, 62 new fires have been recorded in British Columbia, leading officials to issue additional evacuation orders impacting 700 residents in the Cariboo region.
The scorching weather also wreaked havoc on the US Northwest, with temperatures reaching new highs.
Residents of Lytton were seen trying to get out of town in automobiles as flames burnt down trees and several structures, according to amateur camera footage.
Late on Wednesday, Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman issued an order for everyone in the town of 250 to leave. On Wednesday, residents of 87 homes north of Lytton were also asked to vacate their homes.
On Tuesday, Lytton established a new temperature record of 49.6 degrees Celsius (121.28 degrees Fahrenheit). The previous record for a high temperature in Canada, which is known for its bitterly harsh winters, was 45 degrees Celsius, achieved in Saskatchewan in 1937.
Strong gusts of up to 71 kph (44 mph) were reported in the area on Wednesday, igniting the flames.
The B.C. Coroners Service said on Wednesday that the province had documented at least 486 unexpected fatalities in the five days leading up to Wednesday, about three times the average amount.