A fierce wind-driven wildfire on Thursday had nearly reached the city of Yellowknife, the capital of Canada's Nortwestern Territories. The fire prompted evacuation orders and even airlift plans for thousands of people.
Officials issued evacuation orders for Yellowknife and the nearby First Nations communities of Ndilo and Dettah.
The scale of the evacuation is the largest Canada has undertaken in what is already a record fire season this year. Fire officials say the situation is more severe because the fire threatens the region's only highway that leads away from the flames, which the city's 20,000 residents are using as a main thoroughfare to leave.
The fire has already driven the evacuation of some 6,800 people in territories surrounding Yellowknife. Officials say there have been no fatalities as a result of the fire.
Patients under intensive and long-term care at regional hospitals would be moved to other facilities, officials said.
Calgary is preparing reception areas for thousands of evacuees.
And officials say certain high-risk individuals or those who can't make it out by road can register for evacuation flights.
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says 1,053 wildfires were burning in Canada on Thursday. More than half of them were out of control.
Fires have burned more than 53,000 square miles in Canada this year, an area larger than the state of Alabama.
Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com