NewsCanada: first the heat, now the flames

Canada: first the heat, now the flames

After the heat wave in western Canada, people are now forced to leave their homes because of forest fires. Lytton, who had three temperature records this week, is clearly affected.

The residents probably only had a few minutes to leave their homes. “Within fifteen minutes, the flames were everywhere,” reported the Mayor of the Canadian community of Lytton, Jan Polderman. A few minutes later he gave the order to evacuate. “The situation is terrible. The whole village is on fire, ”he said on Canadian TV.

Shortly afterwards, police officers rushed from house to house to warn the residents of the forest fire. Only very few had time to pack important belongings. “We just wanted to get out, just get away,” reported one resident. Clouds of smoke spread over the village, roof trusses and cars caught fire. The nearby Trans-Canada Highway has been closed.

Lytton is in the Fraser River Valley, a four-hour drive from Vancouver. Lytton has been making headlines for days, the village of 300 people is practically the epicenter of the heat wave that has had a grip on the west of Canada for five days. 49.6 degrees Celsius was measured there on Tuesday, the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada. It was the third record in three days. On Sunday the thermometer in Lytton first rose to the new national record of 46.6 degrees, then on Monday to 47.9 degrees. On Tuesday, the Canadian weather service finally reported almost 50 degrees. The fire came on Wednesday evening.

Eyewitness: inside spoke of “catastrophic destruction”. It is still unclear whether everyone was able to leave the village in time. “It would be a miracle if everyone made it,” said the mayor. A resident reported on the radio that around 100 residents had fled to a nearby small town in a long car convoy. “It’s incredible. Our village is no longer. ”The emergency services tried to extinguish the fire with the help of helicopters until late at night. The village may have been completely destroyed.

A total of around 30 forest fires are currently raging in British Columbia, fueled by the heat and gusts of wind. In addition to the residents of Lytton, hundreds of people elsewhere had to leave their homes on the instructions of the authorities. Heat thunderstorms are predicted for the next few days, which should exacerbate the situation.

Heat deaths in the USA: In addition to Canada’s west, the neighboring US states Washington and Oregon are also experiencing a heat wave with numerous deaths. In Multnomah County alone, which includes Portland, Oregon’s largest city, 45 people have died in connection with the excessive temperatures since the heat began on Friday, according to authorities. In Oregon’s neighboring state of Washington, the death toll rose to 13, according to The Seattle Times newspaper.

The record heat wave, which recently moved from the coastal metropolis of Vancouver to the interior of the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, has likely contributed to several hundred deaths so far, according to government estimates. In the past five days, 486 sudden deaths have been reported in British Columbia alone, according to coroners.

According to the province’s chief medical examiner, Lisa Lapointe, that’s around 300 more than usual for such a period. The authority assumes that the sharp increase is related to the extreme heat. Many of the fatalities lived alone and were in poorly ventilated and not cooled rooms, most of them were senior citizens, according to Lapointe.

In many communities, cooling rooms have been set up in churches, swimming pools, garages, or libraries where people can find refuge from the heat. Many people in British Columbia do not have air conditioning in their homes because the region is considered to be temperate. Temperatures of more than 30 degrees are exceptional.

Air conditioners have been sold out in larger cities for days. Quite a few residents have rented air-conditioned hotel accommodations to work and sleep, according to the British Columbia Hotel and Restaurant Association. Fountains and sprinkler systems have been running everywhere in Vancouver, and tankers with drinking water are available in Calgary.

The trigger for the extreme heat wave in Canada and in the northwest of the USA is a so-called “heat dome”. The high pressure in the atmosphere holds the hot air in a kind of dome that only moves slowly.

The extent of the heat wave shocked him, said climate researcher Simon Donner from the University of British Columbia, the broadcaster “CBC”. “As scientists, we expect more extreme weather events because the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to increase,” said Donner. “The fact that the current wave is so intense and lasts so long is unparalleled in Canada.”

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