Aerial evacuations continue in isolated communities in Canada’s North threatened by wildfires that are engulfing roads, prompting the Northwest Territories to declare a state of emergency.

Nearly 168,000 people were forced from their homes in Canada after the record-breaking wildfires broke out.

In the Northwest Territories, which has more than 230 active fires, about 15 percent of the population has been evacuated so far, more than 6,000 people, according to authorities.

With hundreds of kilometers separating them, these villages are “particularly difficult” to evacuate by land, explained Mike Westwick, of the fire service, explaining that a detachment of 120 soldiers was deployed on Tuesday to facilitate air evacuations.

A resident of a community of about 2,250 people now under an evacuation order, Jordan Evoy, 28, had hoped to leave his residence by car to flee to neighboring Alberta, but a major forest fire forced him to change his mind on Monday and to escape by military plane.

“I couldn’t see anything in front of me (…) There was no network anymore, so no way of knowing where I was, it was even more distressing,” he tells AFP.

Evoy was afraid that his truck’s tires would “melt” from the heat. “The highway was engulfed in flames, it was the scariest moment of my life,” he added.

After the regional capital Yellowknife on Monday night was threatened by a fire that reached 20km from the city’s entrance, it was the turn of the Northwest Territories (TNO) authorities to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday night (early Wednesday , Greek time zone).

“The situation is evolving rapidly and needs on the ground are changing rapidly,” the government said in a statement.

“We are in a state of crisis and our government is using all means [που έχει] at its disposal,” regional environment minister Shane Thompson said, stressing that this allows local government to “access resources and develop them”.

“It breaks my heart to think of the people in TNO who are struggling with the devastating forest fires,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the X network (formerly Twitter).

The neighboring province of British Columbia, which has also been hit by the wildfires, recorded temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, the first time this year in Canada, the environment ministry told AFP on Tuesday.

In the town of Lytton, the mercury hit 41.4 degrees Celsius on Monday, two years after wildfires wreaked havoc following an unprecedented “heat dome” of 49.6 degrees Celsius, a record for Canada.

Canada, which due to its geographical location, is warming faster than the rest of the planet, has been faced in recent years with extreme weather events, the intensity and frequency of which are increasing due to climate warming.