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Over 170 wildfires rage across Western Canada as forensic team arrives in Lytton

By Zarrin Ahmed
Over 170 wildfires rage across Western Canada as forensic team arrives in Lytton
Canadian officials have sent military crews to cities affected by the more than 170 wildfires raging across western Canada as it experiences a record heatwave. Photo by NASA / EPA-EFE

July 3 (UPI) -- A forensic team arrived Saturday in the Canadian town of Lytton to investigate two deaths caused by wildfires raging across western Canada. Canadian officials have sent military crews to cities affected by more than 170 ongoing wildfires.

British Colombia's chief coroner told BBC Friday that 719 sudden deaths happened this week, triple the number during the same period in previous years. Wildfires sparked by lightning strikes are burning across western Canada following a record-breaking heatwave.

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"This number is preliminary and subject to increase as additional reported deaths are entered into our system," Lisa Lapointe said.

Experts say that climate change is the cause of the sudden heatwave and wildfires, and that the frequency of extreme weather events would continue to increase.

Lytton ordered a community-wide evacuation after fires broke out this week. Jacob Chapman told CBC News that his parents, both in the 60s, were killed after a power line fell on them as they tried hiding from the flames.

On Friday evening, Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan announced that an emergency response base would be set up in Edmonton, Alberta.

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"We will position more air resources in Edmonton as quickly as is possible, including a Hercules aircraft & two Chinook medium-heavy lift helicopters. They can be used to provide airlift of firefighters and equipment into & out of affected areas & support evacuations of residents," Sajjan posted on Twitter.

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