“This year, we’re facing the worst #BCWildfire season ever,” Mr Eby wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Given these fast-moving conditions, we are declaring a provincial state of emergency.”
The premier stated that this would ensure “that we can quickly access any tools we need to support communities.”
He warned that “emergency orders could include travel restrictions to specific areas if people do not respect our calls to avoid non-essential travel” as more people were evacuated.
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), Canada is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, with at least 1,000 flames raging across the country.
According to experts, climate change increases the likelihood of hot, dry weather that fuels wildfires.
Extreme and long-lasting heat takes more and more moisture from the earth, providing fuel for flames that can spread at breakneck speed, especially if winds are strong.
West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund had described the incident as “devastating.”
“We fought hard last night to protect our community. We fought 100 years worth of fires all in one night,” he added.
Local officials have already reported “significant structural loss” in the area, including Trader’s Cove, which is located just north of West Kelowna.
So far, no fatalities have been reported.
Juliana Loewen lives in Kelowna, a larger twin city to West Kelowna on Okanagan Lake’s eastern bank. She told that neighbours saw a “ominous cloud of destruction” rising over the mountainside and that some people on the Trader’s Cove side jumped into the lake as the fire spread and exit routes were shut.
After “the fire jumped very quickly from one tree to an entire area, threatening an entire residential community,” her brother and grandmother escaped to her house.
Local people are used to flames due to the area’s “California-style climate,” but the current heat, dryness, and wind have created the “perfect conditions for a firestorm,” according to Ms Loewen.
The airspace near Kelowna International Airport is currently blocked to everybody but airborne firefighters.
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