The heatwave caused fires in Canada and the US. Authorities are still trying to establish the exact number of deaths


Authorities are still trying to establish the exact number of deaths from the extreme heatwave that began a week ago.

Dozens of fires ravaged western Canada and California in the United States on Friday, forcing thousands of people to evacuate and lowering hopes that the deadly heatwave hitting the region will subside.

A thousand people were evacuated in the Canadian province of British Columbia when a forest fire ignited the small town of Lytton, which had been breaking national records for maximum temperatures for three days.

According to a map of the provincial government, 152 fires are active, most of them (89) started two days ago.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with several Ministers from the Incident Response Group. As a result, it was decided to establish an operations center in Edmonton, in the west of the country, to "provide support throughout the region as needed."

The armed forces are now ready to provide logistical assistance "if requested," Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said.

"The dry conditions and extreme heat in British Columbia are unprecedented," said the Minister of Public Safety, Bill Blair.

" These fires show that we are at the beginning of what promises to be a long and difficult summer," he added during a press conference.

British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan asked the federal government for reinforcements on Thursday.

On Friday, the forensic services of the province revised up the "unprecedented number" of deaths: 719 between last Friday and this Thursday.

This provisional number is "three times higher" than the average number of deaths recorded during this period in normal times.

" The extreme weather conditions that British Columbia has experienced in the past week are a major factor contributing to the increase in the number of deaths," Lisa Lapointe, the province's chief coroner, said in a statement.

Evacuation notices were issued for large areas of a California county where a gigantic fire, active for a week, devastated more than 8,000 hectares.

A dozen different outbreaks were reported in California. Last year that state suffered the worst wildfires in its history.

Hundreds of firefighters were trying to contain three forest fires in the north of the state, where the drought favored the expansion of the fire by thousands of hectares, to the vicinity of a popular lake that is preparing to receive vast contingents of tourists on the holiday weekend of 4 of July.

Authorities issued evacuation orders along stretches of Lake Shasta. High temperatures and strong winds stimulate flames at a relatively early stage of the region's fire season.

Lytton's entire population of about 250 was evacuated Wednesday night, the day after the town set a Canadian record for high temperatures at 49.6 degrees Celsius.

Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan wrote on Twitter that Latin America's neighbors have been devastating in the last 24 hours.

About 250 km northeast of Vancouver, " suffered structural damage and 90% of the town is on fire, including the town center, " said local MP Brad Vis.

Provincial officials have not reported any injuries or deaths related to the fire.

Several outbreaks were recorded north of the city of Kamloops, located about 150 km northeast of Lytton.

Environment Canada said in a bulletin released Thursday for the area of Prince George, another city in British Columbia, that "an extreme range of extreme stress will continue to bring record temperatures over the next few days.

"The duration of this heatwave is worrying as there is little relief overnight," when elevated temperatures persist, he added.

The heatwave was moving east toward the Canadian prairies.

In addition to British Columbia, heat warnings have been issued for Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, parts of the northwest and now northern Ontario.

In California, weather services forecast higher temperatures for next week.

Also, in the United States, the states of Washington and Oregon are suffocated by record temperatures, and hundreds of sudden heat-related deaths have been reported.