Canada wildfires: British Columbia declares emergency as 15,000 homes told to evacuate 

BRITISH COLUMBIA - About 15,000 house­holds have been or­dered to evacuate in Canada’s British Co­lumbia, as firefighters battle raging wildfires that have set homes ablaze. Officials said a “significant” number of buildings caught fire in West Kelowna, a city of 36,000 people, and more than 2,400 homes were evacuated. 

A state of emergency has been declared for the entire province, where hundreds of separate fires are burn­ing. Hundreds of miles north, a huge fire edges towards the city of Yel­lowknife. An official deadline to evacuate the city - the capital of Can­ada’s Northwest Terri­tories - lapsed on Friday. A local official said later that day that nearly all residents had left, either by car or plane. 

About 19,000 of the city’s 20,000 inhabit­ants had evacuated, the territories’ envi­ronment and commu­nities minister Shane Thompson told report­ers. “Some are choos­ing to shelter in place. If you are still in Yel­lowknife and you are not essential to the emergency response, please evacuate,” Mr Thompson said. 

He warned that the highways and airport could be impacted by the wildfires. In Brit­ish Columbia, evacua­tion orders grew from covering 4,000 homes on Friday afternoon to about 15,000 in the space of an hour. An­other 20,000 homes are under alert. Pre­mier of the province, David Eby, said that evening that the situa­tion had “evolved rap­idly” and officials were braced for “an extreme­ly challenging situation in the days ahead”.

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