” It’s horrible. The whole town is on fire, ”Mayor Jan Polderman told CBC. “It took about 15 minutes between the first sign of smoke and, all of a sudden, fire everywhere. “
Lytton, a city of just 250 residents, had passed 121 degrees earlier in the week, setting a record for the hottest temperatures on record in Canada. The entire town had to be completely evacuated as flames jumped fences and incinerated every building. Winds of up to 45 mph lashed burning debris. Most residents did not have time to collect their belongings as the fire descended on them, the mayor said.
Brad Vis, an MP who represents the area around Lytton, tweeted that he would not be participating in the Canada Day festivities to help manage the disaster, which includes extensive damage to road, water and telephone infrastructure. Vis also reported that several people were injured.
Many took refuge in a nearby town which was also under fire warning Thursday morning. “At the First Nation band office, the fire was a wall about three to four feet high up to the fence,” said the mayor. “I walked through town and it was just smoke, flames, the wires had fallen. “
Climatologist Zeke Hausfather told AFP that the extreme weather conditions were undoubtedly a product of global warming. “The climate is kind of steroids for the weather,” he said. “It’s throwing the dice to make this kind of extreme event more frequent. “
CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said low-precipitation thunderstorms with strong winds, heavy lightning and little rain fueled many small fires. “I have never seen such extreme forest fire conditions,” Wagstaffe said in its CBS report. “We’re going to see conditions like this for the rest of the week, unfortunately. “
Satellite images released by climatologist Daniel Swain confirmed that the thunderstorms were a “pyro-convective event,” meaning they were generated by forest fires which they then fueled to get stronger.
The intense heat has killed dozens of people at least, if not hundreds, in the northwestern United States and western Canada. Dry conditions have led to an increase in fires in the heavily forested province of British Columbia, adding further misery to the deadly situation.