Around 17,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in the Kelowna region of Canada’s British Columbia province, where forest fires have already devastated 300 hectares of land.
At least nine houses have been consumed by the flames, which crossed a highway forcing the inhabitants of 6,500 homes to leave, but the fires have not caused any injuries or deaths so far, firefighters said.
The British Columbia Fire Department said in a statement that 80 firefighters were dispatched yesterday to support a team of 45 firemen already battling two blazes that have surrounded the town of Kelowna, 350 kilometers east of Vancouver.
Seven helicopters and eight water-spraying planes have also been deployed.
The cause of the fires, which were declared on Saturday and Sunday morning, remains unknown, but a combination of low humidity, high temperatures and strong winds have stoked the flames.
The evacuees have gathered at an ice rink and a nearby school, according to local newspaper the Vancouver Sun.