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Canada: Officials declare state of emergency in British Columbia as wildfires force evacuations in Kelowna
Representational image of wildfire/courtesy: Unsplash

Canada: Officials declare state of emergency in British Columbia as wildfires force evacuations in Kelowna

| @indiablooms | 19 Aug 2023, 12:38 am

Okanagan (B.C.)/IBNS: Evacuation orders were reportedly issued after a wildfire jumped Lake Okanagan, sparking spot wildfires in Kelowna and forcing thousands of people to leave from their homes in British Columbia's Okanagan.

A state of emergency has been declared by Okanagan, which has a population of almost 150,000.

A local state of emergency was also declared Thursday night by the City of West Kelowna and the Westbank First Nation due to that same wildfire.

With more than 1,000 properties under evacuation orders, about 2,500 people have been impacted and officials estimate another 5,500 properties under alert.

Jason Brolund, chief of the West Kelowna fire department, was reported saying that the evacuation order area was likely to grow.

On Thursday, Brolund had warned that drought conditions could worsen the condition at a moment's notice. "It will take literally nothing to get a fire started," he said.

The province was experiencing the most critical portion of the wildfire season so far, with strong winds and lightning forecast for almost the entire area, officials have warned.

"We are expecting significant [wildfire] growth, and we are expecting our resources to be challenged from north to south of the province over the next 48 hours," Cliff Chapman, director of wildfire operations for the B.C. Wildfire Service was reported to say.

People had also been warned by Neal McLoughlin, a wildfire service forecaster, that people across the province, particularly in the southern and Interior regions, should be prepared to leave their homes.

As of Thursday afternoon, the most recorded land burned in the province's history amounts to more than 16,000 square kilometres of land burned in B.C.

B.C. had already received several dozen people on Thursday from N.W.T. Hospitals and care homes and is still struggling to help wildfire evacuees from the Northwest Territories, where Yellowknife is being evacuated.

(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)

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