Nearly 400 wildfires are raging in Canada’s British Columbia province, forcing at least 30,000 families to leave their homes.
Travel to Kelowna, a 132,000-person waterside city where smoke from close fires lingers over Lake Okanagan, has been banned by the government.
The measure is intended to guarantee sufficient housing for survivors and emergency personnel.
Homes in the neighboring city of West Kelowna, population 36,000, have been damaged by fire.
The cities of Kamloops, Oliver, Penticton, Vernon, and Osoyoos are also subject to travel restrictions.
A massive fire that is hundreds of kilometers north is advancing toward the city of Yellowknife.
The Northwest Territories’ capital city’s formal flight deadline passed on Friday. Later that day, a local official reported that almost all of the residents had departed, either by automobile or by plane.
Out of the city’s 20,000 residents, about 19,000 had left. Authorities stated that 39 patients were the final residents of the city to be rescued when they were transferred from a hospital to alternative facilities on Friday evening.
Shane Thompson, minister of the environment and communities, said some people had decided “to shelter in place,” but he advised residents to flee.
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In British Columbia, the number of residences covered by evacuation orders increased from 15,000 on Friday to at least 30,000 by Saturday evening. 36,000 additional residences are under departure notice.
Minister of Emergency Management Bowinn Ma stated that it “cannot be emphasized strongly enough how important it is to heed evacuation orders.”
Not only for the occupants of those properties but also for the first responders, who frequently return to attempt to persuade individuals to leave, she said, “They are a matter of life and death.”
David Eby, the county premier, estimated that 35,000 people had been advised to evacuate in total, with another 30,000 being told to be ready.