Following days of record temperatures, the people of the Canadian town of Lytton have been forced to leave their homes and flee from fire sparked by the extreme heat.
Mayor Jan Polderman ordered the evacuation of the town located in Canada’s western province of British Columbia on Wednesday evening, CBC television reported.
“It took, like, a whole 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to, all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere.”
For the previous three days, Lytton had reported record temperature highs, with the thermometer showing 49.6 degrees Celcius on Tuesday, an all-time record for Canada.
Many inhabitants of Lytton, which lies about 260 kilometres northeast of the province’s biggest city Vancouver, had to leave their belongings behind as they were fleeing from the fire.
Emergency services reported several fires in the area.
The extreme heatwave which has hit western Canada over recent days has already contributed to hundreds of deaths.
Authorities in British Columbia reported 486 unexpected and sudden deaths between last Friday and Wednesday.
The figure, which is likely to increase, is 195 per cent above the usual average for a comparable period, the forensics medicine authority for the province said, noting the sharp increase was related to the extreme heat.
Record temperatures have also been seen in the western United States in recent days.
In Multnomah County district in Oregon, which includes Portland, 45 people had died since the onset of the heatwave on Friday, the local forensics medicine authority said on Wednesday.
In neighbouring Washington state, the number of deaths related to the high temperatures rose to 13, The Seattle Times reported.
Temperatures in Portland had briefly risen to 47C.