Disasters & Accidents

Western Canada declares state of emergency as wildfires grow

Toronto, Canada, Aug 18 (EFE).- Western Canada declared a state of emergency Friday due to the worsening of the crisis caused by hundreds of forest fires that have forced the evacuation of thousands of people in the last few hours.

David Elby, premier of British Columbia, made the announcement at a press conference Friday night in which he urged the population evacuate.

Authorities made the decision to declare a state of emergency when the growth of several fires forced them to order the evacuation of 15,000 people. In addition, another 20,000 have been warned that at any moment they may have to leave their homes.

The province had 388 active forest fires Friday but it is feared that the situation will worsen in the next few hours due to weather conditions. Some 1,052 fires are active across Canada, which is experiencing its worst wildfire season.

The most serious fire is affecting the towns of West Kelowna and Kelowna, about 300 kilometers east of Vancouver and with a combined population of more than 160,000 people.

The flames have advanced in the last hours and have destroyed several buildings in the two towns.

Kelowna International Airport has had to cease operations and airspace has been restricted to firefighting operations.

Meanwhile, in the Northwest Territories, in the north of the country, authorities announced Friday night that 95 percent of the 20,000 inhabitants of the city of Yellowknife have already evacuated the town.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled Friday to the city of Edmonton to visit one of the reception centers for evacuees from Yellowknife.

Authorities in the Northwest Territories ordered an evacuation Wednesday due to the threat posed by four wildfires surrounding the region’s capital.

Although the order established that the deadline for evacuation was noon on Friday, an estimated 1,000 people still remain in Yellowknife.

Mayor Rebecca Alty requested in a press conference held Friday night that those who still remain in the city leave it as soon as possible since the flames are only 15 kilometers from the town.

In the last few hours, emergency teams with the help of the country’s armed forces have created firebreaks around Yellowknife while spraying the ground and buildings with liquid to protect them against the flames. EFE


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