An entire Canadian village has been forced to evacuate after being engulfed by wildfires days after it recorded the country’s hottest ever temperature – 121F.
Lytton in British Columbia ordered all 300 of its residents to flee on Wednesday, as wildfires triggered by a record-breaking heatwave moved in.
The village’s mayor Jan Polderman issued the evacuation ordered at 6PM PST, around an hour after the fast-moving blaze began, and told CBC: ‘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.
‘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.’
At least 20 structures are so-far reported to have been destroyed in the small village, which sits around 170 miles north east of Vancouver.
Lytton in British Columbia was consumed by flames on Wednesday evening – one day after experiencing the hottest weather ever recorded in Canada -121F
The village – which has a population of 300 – was ordered to evacuate by mayor Jan Polderman at 6pm PST Wednesday. He said the situation caused by the fire was ‘dire’
Around 20 buildings have so far been destroyed by the blaze. It is unclear if anyone was injured
British Columbia has been hit by multiple wildfires because of record-breaking heat, including these two near Kamloops Lake
Two highways to the north and south of Lytton have been closed, with firefighters also dealing with two other wildfires in the locality, whose area spanned at least 350 hectares.
There have not been any reports of injuries so far, with the evacuation alert sending people to pack up their families, pets and belongings so they could flee their homes.
Lytton was hit by the inferno after recording Canada’s hottest ever temperature three days in a row earlier this week.
The maximum temperature recorded there was a searing 121F on Tuesday, with baking weather blamed for the flames now engulfing Lytton.
British Columbia has been hit by two separate wildfires – a 15 square mile blaze near Kamloops Lake, which has forced the evacuation of 160 homes.
And a 20 square mile fire is burning in Lillooet, with four helicopters drafted in to help battle that blaze.
Paramedics in Spokane, Washington, check on the welfare of a man in the city’s Mission Park on Wednesday
Paramedics help a man in Salem who fell ill during recent heat. Salem broke its temperature record when it hit 117F on Wednesday
The five day heatwave is feared to have killed 400 people across the Pacific Northwest. A heat exposure patient is stretchered into an ambulance in Salem, Oregon, on Saturday
British Columbia saw 321 excess deaths, with a further 80 feared to have been killed across Oregon and Washington
Salem paramedics treat a restaurant worker who collapsed from heat exhaustion on June 26. The Pacific Northwest is more accustomed to temperatures in the 60s, and most locals don’t own an air conditioner
Temperatures have cooled slightly in Lytton, and hit 102F on Wednesday.
But they will stay in the 90s for the next week – far above the usual 60F and 70F weather normally seen in the Pacific Northwest at this time of year.
Other cities which saw record-breaking weather – including Portland, where the mercury hit 116F.
That is hotter than any temperature ever recorded in well-know American hotspots including Los Angeles, Dallas and New Orleans.
Oregon and Washington, including Seattle, which saw 108F weather, have now begun to cool down.
But officials fear the multi-day heatwave may have caused around 400 deaths across the US and Canada.
British Columbia’s Chief Coroner, Lisa LaPointe, said her office received reports of 486 ‘sudden and unexpected deaths’ between Friday and Wednesday.
A woman enjoys a splashpad in Richmond, British Columbia on Tuesday, as the region saw its hottest recorded temperatures
This sign reminded dog owners to keep their pets hydrated in Yakima, Washington
A woman and her cat cool down inside a tent at a cooling center in Portland, Oregon, on Monday
The Oregon Convention Center in Portland, pictured on Monday, provided a cool space for locals to escape the dangerous heat
She told AP that around 165 people would normally die in the province over a five day period – raising the specter of 321 deaths caused by the heat.
LaPointe added: ‘While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather.’
Vancouver Police Sergeant Steve Addison, whose city also sits within the same province, added: ‘Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it.’
Meanwhile, Oregon has tied 60 deaths to the heat, with a further 20 suspected fatalities recorded in Washington.
King County Medical Office, which includes Seattle, reported Wednesday that 13 people had died of heat-related causes, including three men, aged 51, 75, and 77, who had been killed by heat stroke.
Extreme heat is particularly dangerous for the elderly and vulnerable. Most homes in the Pacific Northwest do not have air conditioning, because the region is so unused to such hot weather.
Meteorologists say the heat wave was a once in a millennium event.
It was caused by a wide, deep mass of high pressure air that parked itself over the Pacific North West because of a wavy jet stream.
That high pressure area acted like a lid – or heat dome – trapping hot air inside, so temperatures get higher and higher.
The phenomenon has seen air conditioners sell out, triggered rolling blackouts in Spokane, Washington – and left locals praying for rain.