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Mayor Says ‘The Whole Town Is On Fire’ As Record Breaking Heatwave Sparks Intense Wildfires

by : Hannah Smith on : 01 Jul 2021 19:09
Mayor Says 'The Whole Town Is On Fire' As Record Breaking Heatwave Sparks Intense Wildfires 2 Rivers Remix Society/Vimeo

A Canadian town that broke the country’s all-time temperature record three days in a row has been evacuated after a massive wildfire broke out on Wednesday, June 30.

At least 250 residents of Lytton, in British Columbia, were forced to flee after fire rapidly spread to the town and surrounding communities, with many people leaving all their possessions behind.

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In an update on Thursday morning, the area’s MP Brad Vis told News1130 that ‘the town has sustained structural damage and 90% of the village is burned, including the centre of town.’

Local residents shared footage on social media of burning buildings and cars just yards away as they rushed to evacuate, with video also showing metres-high flames either side of the highway out of town. It is not clear whether there were any casualties, with officials working to account for all residents.

Speaking shortly after issuing the evacuation notice, Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman told CBC News ‘It’s dire. The whole town is on fire. It took, like, a whole 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to, all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere.

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‘At the First Nation band office, the fire was a wall about three, four feet high coming up to the fence line. I drove through town, and it was just smoke, flames, the wires were down.’

‘It’s just unbelievable. You can’t even comprehend it,’ local First Nations school administrator Edith Loring-Kuhanga told CBC. ‘Our entire town is gone.’

Lytton made headlines earlier this week as temperatures in the town peaked at 49.5C on Tuesday, June 29 – almost 5C higher than the national temperature record prior to this week’s heatwave.

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On Thursday, July 1, a regional district official told Global News that the fire may have been started by a train going through the area. There are currently several wildfires in British Columbia as the state continues to deal with ‘unprecedented’ extreme temperatures.

The New York Times states at least 486 deaths have been reported in the province since Friday, almost triple the average number for this time of year, with Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe saying a ‘significant’ amount of this increase was likely due to the extreme heat.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, British Columbia, Canada, Heatwave, wildfire

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CBC
  1. CBC

    Village of Lytton, B.C., evacuated as mayor says 'the whole town is on fire'