British Columbia Lifts Most Travel Restrictions As Canada Wildfires Ease

British Columbia's Premier David Eby holds a press conference following a tour of the Tselletkwe Lodge, which was created as a safe place for Indigenous evacuees and others who've been displaced due to the wildfires, in Kamloops, B.C., Canada, August 22, 2023. Chad Hipolito/Pool via REUTERS

On Tuesday, the government of British Columbia announced that most travel restrictions to the province’s wildfire-ravaged interior will be lifted, as rain and milder weather helped push back blazes across western Canada.

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The restrictions, which prohibited non-essential travel to communities including as Kelowna, Vernon, and Kamloops, were set to expire at midnight. West Kelowna will keep the measure in place.

Canada is having its worst wildfire season on record, and over 50,000 people have been forced to abandon their homes in the last week, including the entire population of Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories.

Officials claimed that while smoke continued to blanket the province, nearly 200 residences in Kelowna and West Kelowna were engulfed in flames.

“I really am beginning to feel like we’re turning the corner here on this fire,” West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund told a news conference.

The travel orders were put in place over the weekend to free up accommodation for evacuees and emergency services.

“…The efforts in partnership with the federal government, with First Nations and others on recovery has started already,” British Columbia Premier David Eby told a news conference in West Kelowna.

The premier was visiting wildfire-ravaged areas and stated that active fires were still blazing quite close to numerous homes.

Rain helped firefighters defending Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories (NWT), 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) to the north, and the blaze is not expected to approach the city in the next three days, NWT Fire said in a social media post.

However, officials warned that the villages of Hay River and Fort Smith, near the Alberta border, would have difficult days ahead, with rising temperatures predicted to fuel further fire activity.


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