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Canada fires: Town of Lytton ‘90 per cent torched’ as wildfires continue to wreak havoc

Disturbing before and after images have revealed the extent of Canada’s ongoing wildfire crisis, which has killed over 700 people.

Fresh images of a Canadian town almost completely destroyed by the nation’s ongoing wildfires have provided a glimpse of life on the ground for locals caught in the devastating natural disaster.

The village of Lytton, perched 250km northeast of Vancouver, was evacuated Wednesday night because of a fire that flared up suddenly and spread quickly. Nearly 90 per cent of the village was torched.

Pictures posted to Twitter show incredible before and after shots of the quaint town of just 250 residents, with one side-by-side shot showing several buildings on Lytton’s main street flattened by the blaze.

“I cannot stress enough how extreme the fire risk is at this time in almost every part of British Columbia and I urge British Columbians to listen carefully to officials in your communities and follow those directions,” provincial premier John Horgan said.

The heatwave continued to spread across central Canada on Friday with official weather warnings cautioning civilians of daytime highs “ranging from 31 to 35 degrees celsius combined with overnight lows of 16 to 20 degrees celsius”.

The heat has killed more than 700 people in Canada and at least 16 in the United States.

“We will be there to help,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told a news conference.

“The dry conditions and the extreme heat in British Columbia are unprecedented.

“These wildfires show that we are in the earliest stages of what promises to be a long and challenging summer.”

According to wildfire officials, at least 152 fires were active in British Columbia, 89 of them sparked in the last two days. Most were caused by lightning strikes.

Experts believe the heatwave, which has triggered extreme heat alerts in areas where millions of people live, is caused by global warming.

“It is believed likely the extreme weather BC has experienced in the past week is a significant contributing factor to the increased number of deaths,” Lisa Lapointe, the province‘s chief coroner, said in a statement.

Lytton resident Jeff Chapman had to watch on helplessly as his parents perished in the blaze after a power line fell on a trench where his parents sheltered.

With only minutes to react with the fire on their doorsteps, the elderly couple hid from the smoke and flames in a ditch in their backyard, as Chapman ran for safety at nearby rail tracks. From that vantage, he said he saw the fires sweep across and destroy most of the town.

He said they were preparing for an afternoon barbecue and noticed the flames growing in the distance.

“Ten minutes later, our house is fully engulfed. There was nothing we could do. It came in so fast, we had nowhere to go,” he said.

“I knew my parents were in that hole and I‘m watching the house burn and I’m thinking, ’Oh my God.’ The power line pulled right out of the house, and it came right down on my parents.”

Lytton resident Cle-Ann Coghlan said the thought of losing her family’s home was still sinking in.

“I don’t feel like I’ve even processed or even gotten to the point where I can feel that sadness,” Ms Coghlan told CTV News Vancouver. “Because I’m just trying to make sure that each day is good for the kids.”

The fire at Lytton Creek is still classified as out of control, burning through over 8,700 hectares by late Saturday afternoon..

“We are expecting continued growth, despite the heat dome dissipating, we are still seeing those hot interior summer temperatures, accompanied with wind … which makes firefighting efforts challenging,” fire information officer Jean Strong said.

– with AFP

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