Wildfires raging across Canada’s British Columbia have shown some signs of easing, but blazes from hundreds more have driven out more than 30,000 people from their homes.
Officials said firefighters have made some progress aided by cooler weather but the “battle is not over”.
The government is deploying military to help with evacuations in the province.
Smoke blanketing southern British Columbia and Washington state in the US has also prompted air quality warnings.
No deaths have yet been reported in Canada, but officials say some firefighters are continuing to work even after discovering that they have lost their homes to the fires.
West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said on Monday that firefighters have now entered the Upper Bear Creek Road neighbourhood, an area where wildfire burned the hottest.
“What they found was that a hurricane had passed through. Trees were ripped out by their roots, and the force it takes to do that is incredible,” he told reporters.
“Our biggest challenge has been air quality,” he added. “It is choking.”
The lack of visibility due to smoke has made assessing the damages difficult, officials say.
He said that about 50 structures have burned in West Kelowna, but that the most damaged areas have yet to be surveyed.
The air around Kelowna was still hazy and the smell of smoke was still present, said the BBC’s Wyre Davies who arrived there on Monday night.
Kelowna fire chief Travis Whiting said that his team of 500 or so firefighters have made significant progress over the last four days, with the help of cooler and calmer weather.
“Make no mistake, there will be difficult days ahead,” Mr Whiting warned on Sunday.
As of Sunday afternoon, the fire covered an area of 410 square kilometres (101,300 acres).
British Columbia remains under a state of emergency, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday that the military will be deployed to the province to help with evacuations.
Officials have also restricted non-essential travel to Kelowna and its surrounding areas – a popular destination for tourists in the summer. Officials have praised tourists who have left, vacating hotel rooms for displaced local residents.
While it is not known yet how many homes and structures have been lost, officials said the damage is “significant”, with both the communities of Scotch Creek and Celista near Shuswap Lake devastated by the wildfire.
The fire department in Scotch Creek was among the buildings that were destroyed.
Homes and properties in West Kelowna have also been scorched, including the historic Lake Okanagan Resort.
A 50-person urban search-and-rescue team, dubbed Canada Task Force 1, has been deployed to Kelowna to help assess the damage, officials said. The team includes fire and rescue personnel, as well as police officers, engineers and doctors.
“Canadians from coast to coast to coast are watching in horror the images of apocalyptic devastation and fires going on in communities that so many of us know and so many of us have friends in,” Mr Trudeau said on Monday.
Honey Williams August told the CBC that she lost her two cats, along with her home and garden near Little Shuswap Lake.
“It’s going to be hard to go back and see a black earth instead of a green earth,” Ms August said.
Smoke blanketing much of southern British Columbia has prompted air quality advisories, with regions like the Eastern Fraser Valley and the Central Okanagan classified as “very high risk” on Monday morning by Environment Canada.
Wildfires continue to rage across Canada, with 1,037 fires burning as of Monday, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC). Around 650 of those are considered out of control.
Fires burning further south in the US state of Washington have triggered a state of emergency and blanketed the region in smoke. Over 185 structures have burned, and two people have died, officials say. No details have been provided for the people that died.
Blazes are also raging in the Northwest Territories with thousands still displaced, though a wildfire threatening the territory’s largest city Yellowknife has stalled at 15 km (9 miles) from the city’s boundary over the weekend.
Officials fear that hot weather in the forecast could ramp up danger going into the weekend.
Last week, fires incinerated the small hamlet of Enterprise in the Northwest Territories.
Although no deaths have been reported in the latest Canadian fires, at least four firefighters have lost their lives during this wildfire season.
Experts say climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.
Extreme and long-lasting heat draws more and more moisture out of the ground – which can provide fuel for fires that can spread at an incredible speed, particularly if winds are strong.