Nearly 400 wildfires raging in Canada’s British Columbia (BC) province have prompted the evacuation of at least 30,000 households, while another 36,000 are currently under an evacuation alert, the media reported on Monday.
In a statement late Sunday, the provincial Emergency Managaement Minister Bowinn Ma said officials “cannot stress strongly enough how critical it is to follow evacuation orders”, reports the BBC.
“They are a matter of life and death not only for the people in those properties, but also for the first responders who will often go back to try to implore people to leave,” the Minister was quoted as saying.
BC Premier David Eby put the total number of people ordered to leave at 35,000, with 30,000 told to be prepared to evacuate.
The grim development comes after two massive fires in the province’s Shuswap region merged overnight, destroying houses and other buildings.
Meanwhile, authorities have also restricted travel to the waterside city of Kelowna and smoke from nearby fires hangs over Lake Okanagan.
Fires have also charred homes in West Kelowna, a nearby city of 36,000.
The travel restriction around Kelowna is designed to ensure enough accommodation for evacuees and emergency workers.
It also applies to the towns of Kamloops, Oliver, Penticton and Vernon and Osoyoos.
Hundreds of miles north, a huge fire continues to edge towards the city of Yellowknife, the capital of Northwest Territories, the BBC reported.
An official deadline to evacuate the city lapsed on August 18.
About 19,000 of the city’s 20,000 inhabitants had evacuated, according to officials.
Canada is witnessing its worst wildfire season on record, with at least 1,000 fires raging across the country, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC).
Although no deaths have been reported in the latest fires, at least four firefighters have lost their lives during this record-breaking season.