Wildfires raze 90% of Canadian village amid deadly Pacific Northwest 'heat dome'

Wildfires raze 90% of Canadian village amid deadly Pacific Northwest 'heat dome'
Wildfires raze 90% of Canadian village amid deadly Pacific Northwest 'heat dome'

Wildfires destroyed 90 percent of a town in Canada just days after it recorded the country's hottest temperature ever - 121 degrees Fahrenheit - amid a devastating heat wave ravaging the Pacific Northwest. 

Roughly 1,000 people living in and around Lytton, British Columbia, fled from their homes on Wednesday as flames fueled by soaring temperatures ripped through the area, engulfing the town in a matter of minutes. 

The extent of the damage was revealed on Thursday as authorities said 'most homes' and structures were razed. 

Officials said it could take days for the region to be deemed safe enough for first responders to begin searching the wreckage for possible fatalities. 

BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is working to locate an unspecified number of residents who are unaccounted for.   

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Scott Hildebrand, chief administrative officer with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, said dozens of families who evacuated when the fire swept in are now desperately searching for their loved ones.  

'We are receiving calls from people looking for family and loved ones as well, and it's really hard because of power outages and cellphone towers being down, but we're working on that,' Hildebrand told CBC News.  

Wildfires destroyed 90 percent of Lytton, British Columbia, just days after it recorded Canada's hottest temperature ever - 121 degrees Fahrenheit - amid a devastating heat wave ravaging the Pacific Northwest

Wildfires destroyed 90 percent of Lytton, British Columbia, just days after it recorded Canada's hottest temperature ever - 121 degrees Fahrenheit - amid a devastating heat wave ravaging the Pacific Northwest

The extent of the damage in Lytton was revealed on Thursday as authorities said 'most homes' and structures were razed

The extent of the damage in Lytton was revealed on Thursday as authorities said 'most homes' and structures were razed

Roughly 1,000 people living in and around Lytton fled from their homes on Wednesday as flames fueled by soaring temperatures ripped through the area, engulfing the town in a matter of minutes

Roughly 1,000 people living in and around Lytton fled from their homes on Wednesday as flames fueled by soaring temperatures ripped through the area, engulfing the town in a matter of minutes

Officials said it could take days for the region to be deemed safe enough for first responders to begin searching the wreckage for possible fatalities

Officials said it could take days for the region to be deemed safe enough for first responders to begin searching the wreckage for possible fatalities

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Dozens of families who fled when the fire swept in are now desperately searching for their loved ones. Pictured: Resident Martha Van Dyke stands outside her car on Thursday after evacuating

Dozens of families who fled when the fire swept in are now desperately searching for their loved ones. Pictured: Resident Martha Van Dyke stands outside her car on Thursday after evacuating 

Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman, who ordered the village of less than 300 people to evacuate Wednesday, said it took 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to 'all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere'.

'It's dire. The whole town is on fire,' Polderman told CBC.  

'At the First Nation band office, the fire was a wall about three, four feet high coming up to the fence line. I drove through town and it was just smoke, flames, the wires were down.' 

There's been no official report on fatalities connected to the Lytton fires, but Polderman told CityNews1130 'it would be a miracle if everyone made it out alive.' 

'There were all sorts of houses on fire. People were frantic to get out,' he said. 

Edith Loring Kuhanga, a school administrator of the Stein Valley Nlakapamux School on First Nations land directly north of Lytton posted a picture of the fires and smoke to Facebook late Wednesday. 

'Our poor little town of Lytton is gone,' she said. 'This is so devastating. We are all in shock! Our community members have lost everything.'  

Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman, who ordered the village of less than 300 people to evacuate Wednesday, said it took 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to 'all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere'

Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman, who ordered the village of less than 300 people to evacuate Wednesday, said it took 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to 'all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere'

Out-of-control forest fires decimated the small British Columbia village of Lytton in Canada following three consecutive days of record-breaking heat

Out-of-control forest fires decimated the small British Columbia village of Lytton in Canada following three consecutive days of record-breaking heat

The village of Lytton - which has a population of 300 - was ordered to evacuate by mayor Jan Polderman at 6pm PST Wednesday. He said the situation caused by the fire was 'dire'

The village of Lytton - which has a population of 300 - was ordered to evacuate by mayor Jan Polderman at 6pm PST Wednesday. He said the situation caused by the fire was 'dire' 

Smoke from wildfires in the Sparks Lake area of British Columbia rise into the sky

Smoke from wildfires in the Sparks Lake area of British Columbia rise into the sky

Lytton in British Columbia was consumed by flames on Wednesday evening - one day after experiencing the hottest weather ever recorded in Canada -121F

Lytton in British Columbia was consumed by flames on Wednesday evening - one day after experiencing the hottest weather ever recorded in Canada -121F

The sweltering temperatures are being caused by a heat dome of static high-pressure hot air which traps the heat in one location

The sweltering temperatures are being caused by a heat dome of static high-pressure hot air which traps the heat in one location

British Columbia's chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 'sudden and unexpected deaths' between Friday and Wednesday. Normally, she said about 165 people would die in the Canadian province over a five-day period

British Columbia's chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, said her office received reports of at least 486 'sudden and unexpected deaths' between Friday and Wednesday. Normally, she said about 165 people would die in the Canadian province over a five-day period 

But officials fear the multi-day heatwave may have caused around 500 deaths across the US and Canada.

British Columbia's Chief Coroner, Lisa LaPointe, said her office received reports of 486 'sudden and unexpected deaths' between Friday and Wednesday.

She told AP that around 165 people would normally die in the province over a five day period - raising the specter of 321 deaths caused by the heat. 

Vancouver Police Sergeant Steve Addison, whose city also sits within the same province, added:

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