A second community in western Canada has been destroyed by a wildfire as authorities in the region scramble to contain the destructive toll of climate change.
Officials say the village of Monte Lake has likely suffered significant damage, but conditions remain too dangerous for a full assessment. The village, a popular summer vacation destination, has a seasonal population of nearly 3,000.
On Thursday night, the White Rock Lake wildfire skipped a freeway and headed for Monte Lake. Residents have been ordered to evacuate and no deaths have been reported.
“I understand from the wildfire in British Columbia that this fire moved 18 km in eight hours,” Ken Gillis, president of the Thompson-Nicola regional district, told The Canadian Press on Friday. “I have spoken to a number of firefighters who have told me that this year’s fires are behaving in ways they have never seen before. They are just overly aggressive and it is almost impossible to beat them.
Strong winds are expected to help the blaze, which already measures 325 km2, to intensify.
The Monte Lake fire comes a month after a wildfire destroyed most of the village of Lytton, killing two people.
More than 220 provincial firefighters are currently working to prevent White Rock Lake from inflicting further damage on nearby communities, using heavy machinery to build control lines in the hope of directing the blaze.
But the fire department warned the situation remained “incredibly volatile” and could worsen over the next two days.
The city of Kamloops, where many Lytton fire evacuees took refuge, has placed several of its southeastern neighborhoods on evacuation alert.
The risk of rain in the next few days will likely bring momentary relief to cities like Kamloops – but longer-range forecasts suggest hot, dry weather is back. Nearly 300 fires are currently burning in the province.
Experts have linked a brutal heat wave earlier in the summer, along with persistent dry conditions, to climate change, warning that extreme weather events like wildfires are likely to become more frequent in the future. .
British Columbia has seen nearly 5,800 km2 of its forest burnt since the spring, and there are still months of fire season left.