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Record-shattering heat claims lives, ignites fires

Hottest temperature ever reached in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge
The News front page on July 2.

Ten people were killed by record heat in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the summer of 2021.

A heat dome weather event saw numerous temperature records set between June 25 and July 1, and at least 526 deaths happened during this time across the province – including 10 in this community, according to a report by the BC Coroner’s Service.

READ ALSO: Nearly 600 people died due to summer heat waves: BC Coroners Service

The temperature reached a highest-ever mark of 41.4º C at the Pitt Meadows Airport on June 28 – shattering the old record of 37.6º C set in 2009.

That scorching heat had followed temperatures of 40º C and 37.8ºC on the days prior, and there was no relief from the heat during the evening, as temperatures remained high.

Some businesses in Maple Ridge closed during the heat wave, rather than force their staff to work. Cooling centres were set up at the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre and the Greg Moore Youth Centre.

Hot Rocks was a popular spot, and the banks of the Alouette River were lined with people trying to beat the heat.

The Interior town of Lytton set a new Canadian temperature record of 49.6º on June 29, but there were five other communities that also beat old records.

That heat wave was directly followed by one of the worst wildfire seasons the province has ever seen, which resulted in Lytton destroyed, and the deaths of two people.

The 2021 wildfire season burned an area of 8,680 square kilometres, which was the third highest on record, but only 61 per cent of the all-time high three years ago.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s 2021 wildfire season winds down, third biggest in area burned

The White Rock Lake fire was also destructive, tearing through Monte Lake, burning homes, closing the Coquihalla Highway, and putting the City of Vernon on evacuation alert. There were 181 evacuation orders over the fire season.

Maple Ridge was spared forest fires in the area, as fire bans that are typical of the season were extended to include no smoking in Maple Ridge parks, as well as no briquette barbecues.

The weather was unseasonably warm as early as spring break, when the popular Whonnock Lake saw 30,000 visitors through the end of March, and a 40 per cent increase.

It could be another hot summer in the year to come. According to, the summer will be both warmer and rainier than normal in 2022, with the hottest temperatures in mid to late July until early to middle August.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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