Toronto (Canada), Aug. 15 (EFE). – The Northwest Territories, one of Canada’s northernmost regions, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in the face of an unprecedented wave of wildfires that could force the evacuation of part of its territory. The capital, Yellowknife.
The Northwest Territories’ Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Shane Thompson, said in a statement released Tuesday evening that the region is experiencing a “state of crisis” due to hundreds of active wildfires that have forced the declaration of a state of emergency. .
Meanwhile, Rebecca Alte, the mayor of Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories capital of about 20,000 people, warned residents in parts of the city to prepare for a possible evacuation if the fire continues to advance.
At least one hospital in the city has already scaled back its activities and transferred patients to other cities in the south of the country.
This Tuesday, Yellowknife was surrounded by four wildfires to the northwest, north, and southeast of the borough.
The authorities said in a conference held on Tuesday night that the flames are about 20 km from the city, although the situation is developing rapidly.
On the other hand, most of the 3,500 residents of the town of High River, located south of the Northwest Territories, were evacuated due to the fire hazard.
But the town’s mayor, Candace Jameson, warned late Tuesday that about 500 people, many of them elderly, remain in High River and their evacuation options are drying up.
Jameson said the flames had knocked out phone services and there was no way to alert those remaining in town of the danger. In addition, the flames threaten the only available route for evacuation by land.
The Northwest Territories has an area of 1.15 million square kilometers and a population of about 45,000 people, many of whom are of indigenous descent.
Canada is experiencing the worst wildfire season in its history. This Tuesday, the country witnessed 1,071 active fires, of which 672 were out of control.
So far this year, 136,000 square kilometers of forest have been consumed by flames. The previous record was reached in 1995 when forest fires consumed 71,059 square kilometres. In the past decade, the annual rate of forest burned by wildfires was 21,000 square kilometers.