Fire forces evacuation of Lytton, B.C., after days of record-breaking heat

A fast-moving fire tore through the village of Lytton, B.C., on Wednesday after days of extreme heat that repeatedly broke Canadian temperature records.

Firefighters have not determined the source of the flames, but said they didn't come from the 350-hectare George Road wildfire burning just south of the small community, which is located about 260 kilometres northeast of Vancouver.

Lytton Mayor Jan Polderman ordered an evacuation for the entire village of about 250 people at around 6 p.m. Evacuees have been asked to register at the Emergency Social Services building in Merritt, and told they will be provided three days' worth of supports if needed.

Polderman said it didn't take long for the fire to devastate his community.

"Basically, a fire engulfed the town," Polderman told CTV News by phone Wednesday night. "It took about 15 minutes."

After ordering the evacuation, the mayor drove into Lytton one more time – something he described as "one of the worst decisions I've ever made in my life."

"The structures were engulfed, there was smoke everywhere, the wires were down," Polderman said, adding that he managed to pick up one man before driving out of the village.

It's unclear whether everyone managed to escape.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said provincial resources have been dispatched to assist the Lytton fire brigade, which is leading the firefighting effort. Authorities could not provide an estimate on the size of the blaze on Wednesday evening, or confirm how many structures have been destroyed.

Fire information officer Taylor MacDonald noted B.C.'s sweltering heat wave has created extreme fire danger in the area, and many other parts of the province.

"Throughout the whole Kamloops fire centre right now we are seeing really hot and dry conditions, things have really dried out over the last bit here," MacDonald said.

Lytton made headlines this week after breaking the record for highest temperature recorded in Canada three days in a row. The record now stands at 49.6 C, beating the all-time heat record for Las Vegas.

Polderman told CTV News he's believes there's a chance part of the community will be left standing after the fire is extinguished, but that he wouldn't be surprised if the flames eviscerated the entire village.

"I'm just hoping that all the residents got out," he said.

The Village of #Lytton has issued an Evacuation #Order for all properties in the Village of Lytton. Evacuation Order below.

— Emergency Info BC (@EmergencyInfoBC) July 1, 2021