Authorities are talking about the worst wildfire season in Canada since records began. The flames have already destroyed an area the size of Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia combined. Around 168,000 people had to leave their homes. A state of emergency is in effect in the Northwest Territories in the far north of the country. Around 230 fires are raging here alone. Strong winds fan the flames.
A fire is approaching Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, from the west, Shane Thompson, the region’s environment minister, said in a news conference. He called on the almost 20,000 residents of the city on the Great Slave Lake to leave by Friday noon. “I want to emphasize that the city is not in any immediate danger,” Thompson said. But without rain, it’s possible the flames could reach the outskirts of the city by the weekend. “You put yourself and others at risk if you stay longer,” added the minister.
Experts fear the flames could reach Highway 3, the only road link to the rest of Canada, by Thursday. According to the fire department, the fire is currently about 17 kilometers from Yellowknife.
The evacuation of Hay River on the south shore of Great Slave Lake is already underway. The more than 3,000 residents are brought out of the danger zone by bus or plane.
The Canadian military began evacuating residents of many smaller communities in the Northwest Territories on Monday after the fires rendered roads impassable. Dense smoke hinders rescue and extinguishing work.
According to the authorities, four people have died in the forest fires in Canada.
se/kle (ap, afp, rtr)