Fire chief warns global warming is adding a 'day or so' to Canada's fire season every year

ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports from British Columbia, where tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes by 'unprecedented' wildfires

A Canadian fire chief has warned global warming is adding a "day or so" to the country's wildfire season every year as blazes continue to rage in British Columbia.

Speaking to ITV News, Darren Lee, Lake Country District Fire Chief, said "unprecedented drought conditions" had helped to create a "tinder box ready to go".

The caution comes as officials say they have made progress against wildfires in British Columbia and hope efforts could be further aided by changing weather conditions.

More than 30,000 people have been ordered to evacuate from the province, and a state of emergency issued across central and southeast portions.

On Monday, West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said no new properties had been destroyed in the previous 24-hour period, adding the biggest challenge facing firefighters now is poor air quality.

Mr Brolund said he is "optimistic" that light rain showers, which are expected across British Columbia on Tuesday morning, will aid the ongoing response.

Bruce Ralston, British Columbia's minister of forests, said the forecast would not bring "the days of solid rain that we really need", but it might offer "enough to allow fire crews to make more headway".

However, forecasters from the British Columbia Wildfire Service have warned the arrival of Tropical Storm Hilary - which has brought torrential rain to California - could increase the risk of additional fires in the region due to the possibility of strong winds and lighting strikes.

A wildfire burns on the mountainside above a lakefront home in West Kelowna. Credit: AP

Firefighters are to be bolstered by the Canadian army this week, after the country's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, approved a request from officials in British Columbia.

"People are fleeing for their lives. They're worried about their communities, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast are watching in horror the images of apocalyptic devastation," Mr Trudeau told reporters on Monday.

Canada has endured a record number of wildfires for 2023 - more than 5,700 - with blazes displacing tens of thousands of people from their houses.

Mr Brolund has asked those forced to flee to only return home once authorities have deemed it safe.

Some of those displaced by the wildfires have been left to camp in car parks. Credit: ITV News

Blair Savege, a pilot who has helped with efforts to tackle the fires, lost his home to the fires. He described the blazes to ITV News as "unprecedented".

Elsewhere, Suzanne Grooters, who escaped the fires with her husband and daughter, told ITV News how they have been left to camp with other evacuees in a car park.

She said her family car business had been razed, but that their home survived the flames due to a sprinkler system.

"It's devastating to see that video from the helicopter view and seeing that all our neighbours houses are just [reduced] to the ground, to the cement floor. That is horrific to see," she added.

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