A wildfire has burned 90% of the village that recorded Canada’s highest ever temperature, the local MP says.
Brad Vis said the fire had caused extensive damage to Lytton, in British Columbia, and to surrounding critical infrastructure.
Jan Polderman, mayor of Lytton, told the BBC he had been “lucky to get out with my own life”.
“There won’t be very much left of Lytton,” he said. “There was fire everywhere.”
Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, linking any single event to global warming is complicated.
Lytton this week recorded the country’s highest ever temperature of 49.6C (121.3F).
And abnormally high temperatures have been recorded in swathes of North America.
British Columbia, in western Canada, recorded 486 deaths over five days compared with an average of 165 in normal times.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe blamed the extreme weather. The western province had seen only three heat-related deaths over the past three to five years.
Many of those who died, Ms Lapointe said, had been living alone in unventilated homes.
Temperatures have been easing in coastal areas of Canada but there is not much respite for inland regions. The weather system is now moving eastwards over the Prairie provinces – Alberta and Saskatchewan and parts of Manitoba have been placed under Environment Canada heat warnings.
What happened in Lytton?
Residents fled on Wednesday, many without their belongings, as smoke and flame engulfed the village, which is home to about 250 people and located about 260km (162 miles) north-east of Vancouver.
“Within about 15 minutes the whole town was engulfed in flame,” Mayor Polderman told the BBC.
“People basically just grabbed their pets, grabbed their keys and got into their car and fled.”