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Canada: Wildfire destroys town of Lytton amid heat wave

July 2, 2021

Over 90% of the small town town in British Columbia was destroyed, with another 1,000 people evacuated in the province. Prior to the fire, Lytton had seen three consecutive days of record high temperatures.

Flames rise in a street in Lytton
Some 1,000 people were forced to flee the town Image: 2 RIVERS REMIX SOCIETY/VIMEO.2RMX.CA/REUTES

The small town of Lytton in Canada's British Columbia was destroyed Thursday in a wildfire, as much of the region is in the grips of an extreme heat wave.

The town suffered 62 new fires within 24 hours. Authorities said 90% of Lytton had burned down, including the town center, with the town's 250 residents evacuated.

In total, over 1,000 people were forced to flee across the province due to the fires.

The town lies 260 kilometers (161 miles) northeast of the city of Vancouver.


 A wildfire burns in the mountains above Lytton, British Columbia
Much of Lytton was destroyed after fires tore through the townImage: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP/picture alliance

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that an Incident Response Group would go over the situation, and promised assistance. 

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canadian forces were "ready to support residents as we move forward in the next steps," in a tweet.


The fire broke out on Wednesday evening. Mayor Jan Polderman told local media that he saw white smoke on the southern edge of the town and within 15 to 20 minutes, flames had taken over the whole town. 

Lytton had recorded three consecutive days of record heat prior to the fire. 

On Tuesday, temperatures crossed 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit).

Heat wave warnings have been issued for the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and parts of the Northwest Territories, and now northern Ontario.


Heat wave in North America

Fires broke out in other parts of British Columbia as well, with lightning igniting some of them.

Hot and dry weather coupled with strong winds have also exacerbated fire conditions on the US West Coast.

Western Canada and the US states of Washington and Oregon have also been sweltering under record temperatures this week, with dozens of deaths being reported

tg/rs (dpa, AFP, Reuters)