One hundred thirty-six wildfires were blazing across British Columbia as of Friday, according to the province’s Wildlife Service, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, according to reports.
Thousands of lightning strikes, plus a record regional heatwave, were the cause of the fires.
The town of Lytton, B.C. — which recorded Canada’s record-high temperature of 121.3 degrees — was destroyed by one such wildfire.
“Within about 15 minutes the whole town was engulfed in flames,” said Jan Polderman, the mayor of Lytton, according to the British Broadcasting Company.
The town and surrounding area were evacuated late Wednesday.
The defense minister of Canada, Harjit Sajjan, said the government would provide military aircraft and personnel to fight the flames.
The chief coroner of British Columbia, Lisa Lapointe, said Friday that an unprecedented number of sudden and unexpected deaths — 719 — had been reported in the province, according to reports.
More deaths are expected across the province and in the northwest United States.
The Washington state health department reported 1,792 emergency room visits for heat-related ailments since June 25.