Hundreds of firefighters rushed today to contain three wildfires in drought-stricken northern California that burned nearly 40,000 acres.
Among them, a popular tourist lake is preparing to welcome hordes of visitors for the July 4th holiday weekend in the United States.
Evacuation orders were in place along stretches of Shasta Lake – a hot spot for camping and boating 100 miles south of the Oregon border – as soaring temperatures and high winds cause fires at a relatively early stage of the fire season in the region.
About 40 structures were destroyed, including at least half a dozen homes near the town of Lakehead, an AFP photographer said.
“We were full, but at the moment you can’t go in even if you want to,” said Cecil Hengst, owner of the Lakehead Campground and RV Park, forced to temporarily close by order of evacuation.
“This (fire) has come really close… it’s a bad one,” said Hengst, 63, who has been in the area for 12 years.
“Everything is so dry with the drought. We’ve had very little rain, our lake levels are so low right now for this time of year. It’s perfect conditions for fires right now.”
Further north, the larger lava and Tennant fires continued to spread to predominantly remote wooded areas, sending plumes of dense gray smoke that blanketed much of the region.
The lava fire was triggered by lightning strikes last week and more than 500 more lightning bolts have been recorded in California in the past 24 hours, threatening to start new fires.
Dozens of fires are raging across western North America, from Canada to California, after a deadly heat wave that has largely started to abate in recent days.
In Canada, about 1,000 people were brought to safety in the province of British Columbia yesterday when a wildfire burned 90% of a small town that had set a national record for high temperatures for three consecutive days.
Experts say the heat wave on “steroids” was sparked by the global climate change crisis and caused several hundred deaths in Canada and the United States.
The town of Lytton, 250 km northeast of Vancouver, “has suffered structural damage and 90% of the village is burnt down, including the downtown area,” said local MP Brad Vis.
British Columbia has recorded 62 new fires in the past 24 hours, Premier John Horgan said at a news conference.
“I cannot stress enough how extreme the fire risk is right now in almost all parts of British Columbia,” said Mr. Horgan.
The 250 residents of Lytton were evacuated Wednesday evening, a day after setting a record Canadian temperature record of 49.6 ° C.
The evacuation order was extended that night to residents of about 100 properties north of Lytton.
“The past 24 hours have been devastating for the residents of Lytton,” Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said, adding that the Canadian Armed Forces “are ready to support the residents as we move forward in the next steps.”
Provincial authorities have yet to announce any injuries or fatalities from the fires. A number of fires were clustered north of the city of Kamloops, located about 150 km northeast of Lytton.
Environment Canada said in a bulletin released early yesterday for the Prince George, B.C. area, saying that “an unusually strong ridge of high pressure over British Columbia will continue to bring record temperatures over the next few days. “.
“The duration of this heat wave is concerning as there is little relief at night with high nighttime temperatures,” he added.
The heat wave continued to move east across the prairies of central Canada.
In addition to British Columbia, heat warnings have been issued for the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and parts of the Northwest Territories, and now northern Ontario.
Across the border, the US states of Washington and Oregon also suffocated in record temperatures this week and several hundred sudden deaths were reported.