Canadian region declares emergency as devastating wildfires spread

Toronto, Canada, Aug 15 (EFE).- Authorities in the Northwest Territories of Canada have declared a state of emergency after an unprecedented wave of forest fires, with thousands facing a possible evacuation in the region.

In a statement on Tuesday night, community Affairs Shane Thompson said the region was undergoing “a crisis” due to the hundreds of active wildfires.

Rebecca Alty, mayor of the regional capital Yellowknife, warned residents in parts of the city to prepare for a possible evacuation if the flames spread further.

On Tuesday, four forest fires surrounded Yellowknife, home to some 20,000 people.

At least one hospital in the city has already reduced its activities and transferred patients to other towns in Canada’s south.

Authorities said the flames were about 20 km from the city, and the situation was evolving rapidly.

Most of the 3,500 inhabitants of the Hay River town in the south of the Northwest Territories have been evacuated due to the threat of the flames.

The town’s mayor, Kandis Jameson, warned some 500 people, many of them elderly, remained in Hay River and that options for their evacuation were drying up.

Jameson said the flames snapped telephone connectivities, and there was no way to alert those still in the town.

The fire has also endangered the only land link for evacuation.

The Northwest Territories is a region of 1.15 million square kilometers with a population of about 45,000, many of whom indigenous people.

Canada is experiencing the worst wildfire season in its history.

The country had 1,071 active fires, of which 672 were blazing out of control on Tuesday.

The flames have destroyed a record 136,000 sq km of forests this year.

The previous record was in 1995 when forest fires devastated 71,059 sq km.

In the last decade, the annual average amount of forest burned by forest fires has been 21,000 sq km. EFE