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Canada is currently facing a severe wildfire crisis, with a record number of wildfires burning acros…

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Canada is currently facing a severe wildfire crisis, with a record number of wildfires burning across the country. As of August 18th, there were 1,050 wildfires spreading across Canada, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.[0] These fires have burned more than 137,000 square kilometers (53,000 square miles) of land, causing choking smoke in parts of the US.[0]

One of the most affected areas is the Northwest Territories, where the capital city Yellowknife and several other communities have been ordered to evacuate. There are currently 236 active wildfires in the region, and a massive fire is creeping towards the city and a major highway. Over 20,000 people in Yellowknife have been ordered to flee their homes as the wildfires are deemed “out of control.” The only highway out of the city is now at risk of being cut off by the advancing fire.[1]

The situation is also dire in British Columbia, where a state of emergency has been declared.[2] As of August 18th, there were 380 wildfires burning in the province.[3] One of the largest fires, the McDougall Creek wildfire in West Kelowna, grew from 64 hectares to 6,800 hectares in just 24 hours.[4] By late Friday evening, it had covered an area of 105 square kilometers.[3] Thousands of properties in the area have been ordered to evacuate, with over 3,000 properties under evacuation orders and more than 4,800 under evacuation alerts.[5]

The wildfires have had significant impacts on the affected communities. Kelowna International Airport has been closed to commercial flights to allow for firefighting activities. The historic Lake Okanagan Resort in West Kelowna was destroyed by the fire, along with many other structures.[6] Despite the destruction, no loss of life has been reported so far.

The situation has led to the cancellation of flights to Kelowna and Yellowknife by the two largest Canadian carriers.[7] Airspace over Kelowna International Airport has been closed due to the wildfires. Commercial flights in and out of Yellowknife Airport will also be stopped after the last flight departs on Friday evening.[4]

Evacuations have been a major challenge, with thousands of residents rushing to leave their homes. In total, over 29,500 people, which is approximately 65% of the Northwest Territories' population, are currently under evacuation orders.[8] In British Columbia, about 15,000 households have been ordered to leave West Kelowna, with an additional 20,000 under evacuation alerts.[2]

The situation is expected to worsen due to strong winds and the possibility of further fire growth. A state of emergency has been declared in Kelowna, and officials fear that the fire will reach the outskirts of Yellowknife by the weekend.[8] The provincial government has enacted travel restrictions in fire-affected areas to ensure accommodation is available for emergency responders and evacuees.[9]

Overall, the Canada wildfires are causing widespread devastation and displacement. The efforts to combat these fires are ongoing, with firefighters and emergency responders working tirelessly to protect communities and contain the blazes. The situation serves as a reminder of the increasing threat of wildfires due to climate change and the urgent need for comprehensive measures to mitigate their impact.

0. “Canadian wildfire in Kelowna JUMPS lake which emergency services hoped would stop it in its tracks, as map sho” Daily Mail, 18 Aug. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12420067/More-20-000-Canadians-ordered-leave-homes-control-wildfires-advance-city-properties-destroyed.html

1. “‘Like 100 years of firefighting in one night': The battle for West Kelowna, in quotes” National Post, 18 Aug. 2023, https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/like-100-years-of-firefighting-in-one-night-the-battle-for-west-kelowna-in-quotes

2. “Canada wildfires: Thousands of West Kelowna and Yellowknife residents flee” The Times, 19 Aug. 2023, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/canada-wildfires-2023-kelowna-yellowknife-l2r07cl8h

3. “B.C. in state of emergency with thousands out of their homes due to wildfires” The Weather Network, 19 Aug. 2023, https://www.theweathernetwork.com/en/news/weather/severe/bc-under-state-of-emergency-as-wildfire-destroys-homes-near-west-kelowna

4. “Thousands scramble to evacuate capital of Canada's Northwest Territories as more than 200 ‘unprecedented' wildfires …” CNN, 19 Aug. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/18/americas/canada-northwest-territories-wildfire-evacuation-friday/index.html

5. “‘Armageddon': Boater describes scene rescuing swimmers at Traders Cove | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News …” iNFOnews, 17 Aug. 2023, https://infotel.ca/newsitem/pontoon-boat-driver-witnessed-armageddon-at-traders-cove-kelowna/it100029

6. “Lake Okanagan Resort among properties destroyed in West Kelowna wildfire” CBC.ca, 19 Aug. 2023, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-wildfires-okanagan-last-resort-destroyed-1.6941354

7. “Canadian carriers cancel flights to western cities as wildfires rage” Flightglobal, 18 Aug. 2023, https://www.flightglobal.com/airlines/canadian-carriers-cancel-flights-to-western-cities-as-wildfires-rage/154633.article

8. “Canada fires: Race to evacuate Yellowknife as wildfires rage” BBC, 18 Aug. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-us-canada-66542676

9. “Wildfires lead to travel restrictions in Kamloops and other communities” Kamloops This Week, 19 Aug. 2023, https://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/local-news/wildfires-lead-to-travel-restrictions-in-kamloops-and-other-communities-7429983

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