British Columbia’s Premier, David Eby, took to Twitter on Friday night to state, “This year, we’re grappling with the most severe wildfire season. In the last 24 hours, the situation has rapidly escalated. We anticipate daunting challenges ahead. Given this swift progression, we’re enacting a provincial state of emergency.”
Eby explained that such a declaration empowers the province to issue emergency orders, including potential travel restrictions to specific areas. He urged citizens to heed advisories against non-essential travel to the central Interior and southeastern BC, emphasizing unity in overcoming the crisis.
The McDougall Creek wildfire’s growth from 64 to 6,800 hectares within just 24 hours prompted evacuation orders for about 4,800 residents.
Jason Brolund, West Kelowna’s fire chief, described the situation as “devastating.” He highlighted the community’s determined efforts to protect their surroundings and mentioned battling the equivalent of a century’s worth of fires in one night.
Notably, local officials reported substantial structural damage, including in Trader’s Cove near West Kelowna. No casualties have been reported.
In response to the expanding blaze, Kelowna International Airport restricted airspace exclusively to aerial firefighting activities.
Simultaneously, another significant wildfire displaced approximately 22,000 individuals—about half the population—in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The capital, Yellowknife, faced an evacuation order with the BBC reporting that the deadline for evacuation had passed.