Aerial evacuations continued on Tuesday, August 15, in remote communities in Canada’s North, threatened by forest fires that “engulf” roads, prompting the Northwest Territories to declare a state of emergency.
Nearly 168,000 people have had to be evacuated in Canada since the start of a record-breaking fire season. In the Northwest Territories, which has more than 230 active claims, about 15% of residents are currently being evacuated, or more than 6,000 people, according to authorities.
Separated by several hundred kilometers from each other, the villages are “particularly difficult” to be reached by land, explains Mike Westwick, of the territorial fire service, adding that a contingent of 120 soldiers has been deployed since Tuesday to facilitate air operations.
Living in a municipality of some 2,250 people currently under evacuation orders, Jordan Evoy, 28, hoped to leave his home by car to take refuge in Alberta, a neighboring province, but a major forest fire forced him on Monday to turn back and flee by military aircraft.
“I couldn’t see anything in front of me (…) There was no network anymore, so no way of knowing where I was, it was even more nerve-wracking”, he explains to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Mr. Evoy was concerned that his truck’s tires would “melt” under the heat. “The highway was engulfed in flames, it was the scariest moment of my life”he commented.
After the territorial capital, Yellowknife, on Monday evening, threatened by a blaze twenty kilometers from its walls, it was the turn of the authorities of the Northwest Territories (NWT) to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday evening.
” My heart is broken “
The situation “Evolves rapidly and the needs on the ground change quickly”the territorial government said in a statement. “We are in a crisis situation and we are using all the tools at our disposal”Territorial Environment Minister Shane Thompson said, noting that it allows her to “to access and deploy resources”.
“I am heartbroken thinking of the people of the Northwest Territories struggling with devastating wildfires”, for his part declared the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the X network (formerly Twitter).
” Human warmth “
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The neighboring province of British Columbia, also hard hit by forest fires, recorded temperatures above 40 ° C, a first this year in Canada, the ministry of the environment told AFP on Tuesday. .
In this province, the town of Lytton saw the temperature reach Monday 41.4 ° C, two years after being ravaged by flames in the days following a “heat dome” unprecedented with a historic record of 49.6°C for the country.
Canada, which due to its geographical location is warming faster than the rest of the planet, has been confronted in recent years with extreme weather events whose intensity and frequency have been increased by global warming.