The province of British Columbia in Canada announced a state of emergency as firefighters battled wildfires that drove thousands of people to flee their homes, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
Premier David Eby of British Columbia declared a state of emergency at a press conference on Friday (local time). He stated that the province’s wildfire situation has “evolved and deteriorated rapidly.”
According to Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma, the number of individuals under evacuation orders in British Columbia increased from 4,500 to 15,000 in less than an hour.
According to the CBC, a further 20,000 people are on evacuation notice.
Declaring a state of emergency, according to Eby, “enables a number of legal tools for us to issue specific orders and ensure that resources are available.”
The provincial government said in a statement that declaring a state of emergency allows the province to issue emergency orders, which could include travel restrictions if people do not follow advice to avoid non-essential travel to the central Interior and southeastern British Columbia.
Earlier, the blaze in Canada’s Northwest Territories sparked emergency declarations and the evacuation of Yellowknife’s capital city by road and air, according to CNN. Yellowknife is home to roughly half of the population of the remote territory, which is located north of Alberta and east of Yukon.