Authorities in the western province of British Columbia are battling large fires that erupted after a historic heat wave.
In a statement on Sunday, the federal government said the military would help transport “personnel, supplies and equipment in and out of the fire-affected areas” of the province, as well as aid in any emergency evacuation.
Bill Blair, Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, dit military support would be available until July 19th.
“Canadians can be assured that all levels of government are working together to keep British Colombians and their communities safe,” Blair said in the statement.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes due to the flames, which occur after a record heat wave is believed to have contributed to hundreds of dead throughout the province, according to local officials.
Experts say climate change is exacerbating extreme weather events, such as forest fires and the heat wave seen in BC, and this has prompted the Canadian government to move away from major fossil fuel projects, such as pipes.
Sunday afternoon, a BC Wildfire Service board he showed 184 fires were still active in BC and authorities said they feared more could be lit.
“Unfortunately, we expect another lightning to move through areas of the southern interior,” said Jean Strong, BC fire intelligence officer reported by CBC News. “And if we see that … I’d expect to see more ignitions.”
Local media reported that at least two people died in the town of Lytton, about 275 kilometers (170 miles) northeast of Vancouver, inland BC, after massive fires and smoke flooded the community and they forced a quick evacuation on Wednesday.
Lytton had previously broken Canada’s highest temperature record for several days in a row.
Nlaka’pamux Tribal Council chief Matt Pasco, who includes the Lytton First Nation, condemned the evacuation in an interview with The Canadian Press this weekend.
Pasco accused the government of ignoring the needs of the community in the early hours of the emergency. “It was an abysmal attempt at what they are destined to do,” he told the news agency. “They had processes in place for our cattle, but none for the people of Nlaka’pamux.”
The BC government acknowledged that “early communication” with indigenous leaders “did not meet expectations,” CP reported.
In a statement Sunday, the province said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) “continues to make every effort to ensure that all residents and evacuees from Lytton Village and neighboring Indigenous communities are safe and accounted for.”
The government also urged residents who have been evacuated from their homes to register with the authorities “so that loved ones and communities know where it is and that it is safe.”
Emergency support services were said to have been set up to provide food, clothing and a place to house the evacuees, while reception centers were also established in various places, including the cities of Kamloops, Chilliwack and Kelowna.