In Lytton, British Columbia, Canada’s temperature record was broken on Tuesday when the mercury hit 49.6C (121F).
Less than 24 hours later, the small village was evacuated, with just minutes notice, as wildfires broke out.
Public officials now say that most of the town’s homes and buildings have been destroyed, as well as the ambulance station and the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment. Some local people are still unaccounted for.
There are several fires burning in the region which had been trapped under a “heat dome” for days which brought blistering temperatures.
The BC Wildfire Service said one blaze near Lytton was raging out of control over an area spanning roughly 30 square miles (80 square kilometers).
BC Premier John Horgan said on Thursday that there were 62 new fires and 29,000 lightning strikes in the past 24 hours in province and the fire risk remained extreme.
Mr Horgan said he had “anecdotal information” that a separate fire had been sparked by a train traveling through the village.
Edith Loring-Kuhanga, an administrator at the Stein Valley Nlakapamux School, said she and fellow board members had to cut short a Zoom interview with a prospective teacher as the fire burned down their block.
She said she initially didn’t pay attention to a siren going off outside, but then got a call from a school board member telling her to flee.
“He said, ‘I’m down here at the fire and you got to leave, grab whatever you can quickly,’” Loring-Kuhanga told the Associated Press.
The wreckage was extensive, she said.
“It was just unbelievable. It was just a nightmare,” she said. “So many community members have lost everything, they just didn’t have time.”
Before its peak on Tuesday Lytton, which is on the same latitude as London, had set records for high temperatures on three consecutive days. On Monday, the temperature was 47.9C (118.2F) and Sunday, 46.1C (115F).
The deadly “once-in-a-millennium” heatwave which has struck North America has broken temperature record after temperature record amid a mounting death toll, feared to be in the hundreds.
AP contributed to this report