MORE than 30,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in Canada as wildfires threaten to destroy thousands of homes.
Officials said a “significant” number of buildings caught fire in West Kelowna, in British Columbia – with a state of emergency declared for the entire province.
An official deadline to evacuate the city has lapsed, with local officials stating 19,000 of the city’s 20,000 inhabitants had evacuated by road or plane.
Communities’ minister Shane Thompson said: “Some are choosing to shelter in place.
“If you are still in Yellowknife and you are not essential to the emergency response, please evacuate.”
He added that highways and airports could be impacted by the wildfires.
Some 4,000 homes had been ordered to evacuate on Friday afternoon but the demand spread to cover 15,000 within an hour.
A further 20,000 homes are under alert – and could be ordered to flee at any moment.
Premier of the province, David Eby, said that the situation “evolved rapidly” and officials were braced for “an extremely challenging situation in the days ahead”.
He said that more and more people were being evacuated, warning: “Emergency orders could include travel restrictions to specific areas if people do not respect our calls to avoid non-essential travel”.
Canada is having its worst wildfire season on record – with at least 1,000 blazes burning across the country.
There have been more than 5,700 fires across Canada this summer.