Canada fires: Yellowknife residents flee town, new B.C

  • 26 evacuation flights from Yellowknife to Calgary on Friday
  • A fire could spread to the suburbs of Yellowknife over the weekend
  • New fires prompt evacuation orders in Kelowna, British Columbia
  • 2,400 properties were evacuated and structures were destroyed in West Kelowna

YELLOWKNIE, Northwest Territories/EDMONTON, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Remaining residents of the remote northern Canadian town of Yellowknife tried to flee the town on Friday as flames prevented them from escaping, while another wildfire sparked a new one in British Columbia’s western province. eviction order.

A state of emergency was declared early Friday in Kelowna, a city east of Vancouver of about 150,000 people, and surrounding towns. Officials said that the next 24 to 48 hours will be very difficult. Airspace was closed to make way for water bombers.

After a wildfire that had been burning since Tuesday jumped Okanagan Lake and spread to parts of Kelowna, some mountains surrounding the city were ablaze in the front light.

“We fought hard last night to protect our community,” West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Broland told reporters. “Night turned into day because of the clouds and the orange glow of the fire.”

Officials said more than 2,400 properties had been evacuated, and thousands were alerted to leave with little notice if necessary. Several structures were destroyed overnight in West Kelowna, he said.

“Today will be a challenging day again. The wind is stronger than yesterday,” Broland said. “People are going to see that light again” Friday night, “and it’s going to be worse than you expect,” he added.

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The fire’s spread and disruption to life and land underscores the intensity of this year’s worst Canadian wildfire season, with more than 1,000 active fires burning across the country.

About 1,425 km (885 miles) to the northeast, the regional fire service said little progress was being made Friday by a massive fire threatening Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories.

However, strong winds are forecast for Friday and Saturday to still push the fire toward the city, and it could reach the suburbs by the end of the week. The fire service said there were “critical, challenging days” ahead.

The fire is about 15 km (9 mi) northwest of the city and the smell of smoke is widespread in Yellowknife. Fires are burning on both sides of the only open highway outside the city.

“It’s on fire on both sides of the road … it’s a very surreal experience,” said visitor Brent Saulnier.

As of noon local time (1800 GMT), around 20,000 more will have to leave the city.

“The noon deadline doesn’t mean the highway will be closed at noon,” Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “We really encourage everyone to get going as soon as possible. The highway will remain open. Stay open until it’s safe.”

Flights will also continue after the deadline, Aldi said.

Calgary, Alberta, received 15 evacuation flights from the Northwest Territories on Thursday, and an additional 26 flights are expected on Friday, carrying nearly 2,300 people, the city said. The Canadian military evacuated 79 people on Thursday and more flights are planned for Friday.

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About 65% of the total population of the North West Territories, 46,000, is ready for evacuation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit the wildfire recovery center later Friday, his office said.

Fire crews cut vegetation to break up the fire, set up sprinkler systems and deliberately set fires to remove fuel before approaching the larger fire, the fire service said.

dry conditions

Experts say climate change has exacerbated the wildfire problem. Officials say drought and high temperatures have contributed to the number and intensity of fires this year. Much of Canada has experienced unusually dry conditions.

In a dispute with the federal government over a law requiring revenue sharing with local media, Transportation Minister Pablo Rodriguez on Friday urged Meta to allow Facebook parent company Meta to share news stories, responding to complaints that Facebook’s platform platform was blocking critical coverage of the fire.

As the number of evacuees in Grande Prairie and St. Albert, on Edmonton’s northern outskirts, increased, both cities declared they had reached their full capacity and returned all arrivals to a new center in Leduc, south of Edmonton’s provincial capital.

Among them was the Goor family from Hay River.

The family was unsure where their son Liam, 13, was going to land when they got an alert on their phone while camping, returning from a cadet trip in the neighboring Yukon Territory.

As the family moves to Alberta, the most important thing to Paula Gore is her family.

“The only thing I had in mind was that I had the kids, the dogs and we had each other, to get out of there. You can really think about that at the time,” she said.

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Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Timon Johnson; Reporting by David Lungren, Ismail Shakil and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Written by Denny Thomas, David Lungren and Steve Scherer; Editing by Sharon Singleton, Chisu Nomiyama, Jonathan Otis and Josie Gao

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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