Rain Aids Canadian Fire Crews But More Hot Weather On The Way

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Rain brought some relief for hundreds of firefighters battling wildfires around the province, but the respite may be brief, authorities said.

``For the time being it's a bit of a breather,'' fire information officer John Crooks said Sunday.

Thousands of lightning strikes were reported Friday and Saturday night, and thunderstorms remain a problem because of drought conditions in many areas, Crooks said.

About 450 wildfires were still burning in the province and more hot, dry weather is expected, he said.

``The next week will definitely tell the story,'' Crooks said. ``There's no doubt that as temperatures climb back up we will start to see some of these (lightning) strikes turn into fires.''

Showers dampened the Kenny Dam fire, which blackened about 40 square miles roughly 40 miles southwest of Vanderhoof and at one point was considered so dangerous that fire crews were withdrawn from the front lines.

Precipitation also eased the threat from two fires in the Kluskus Lake area, although both grew in size Sunday. One blaze covered about 24 square miles and the second was about half that size.

All 14 residents of Kluskus, about 90 miles west of Quesnel, voluntarily left their homes Friday.

About 4,000 people in and around Lillooet remained on evacuation alert, although authorities said a fire that was within miles of some houses at one point was 60 percent contained.

The largest wildfire in the province, the remote Swan Lake blaze near the Yukon border, covered about 76 square miles.