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    Default B.C. fires spreading at alarming speed - still under STATE OF EMERGENCY

    B.C. fires spreading at alarming speed
    Last Updated Sat, 02 Aug 2003 11:06:18
    KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Three forest fires now burning in B.C.'s Thompson River Valley have surprised firefighters with the speed at which they're spreading.


    INDEPTH: Fighting Fires

    "Off the charts," said Fire Commander Denis Gaudry. "Extreme fire behaviour, and some unprecedented rates of spread that people who work in this business have never seen before."

    Barriere, B.C.
    One of the fires near Rayleigh, just north of Kamloops, spread from a small spark to a 30-hectare wildfire in just five minutes on Friday.

    Hundreds of people fled. Some had to be rescued by boats that took them down the Thompson River. Fire lines in the area were reported to be holding back the flames on Saturday.

    Premier Gordon Campbell declared a state of emergency Friday, saying it is essential to protect the firefighters and residents.

    "We have a very erratic, very volatile situation there," Campbell said.

    At least four communities have been evacuated. People left the village of McLure Thursday night wherer flames destroyed at least three structures. In nearby Barriere, where the town's sawmill and several homes were destroyed, residents left on Friday.

    The latest group of evacuees were on the move at 1 a.m. Saturday, 80 familes, from the community of Falkland, 75 kilometres east of Kamloops.

    Officials say more than 7,500 people have left their homes after evacuation orders were issued. Many headed to Kamloops, where a provincial government registration centre has been set up for evacuees.

    More than 8,000 people in several communities were without power Friday and B.C. Hydro said it could be days, possibly weeks, before it's restored.

    "Crews worked through the night to control the McLure fire as well as the Strawberry Hill fire," said Glen Plummer of the B.C. Emergency Program.

    Nadine Doggett, a Barriere resident told CBC Newsworld the scene behind her home was "pretty scary" with black smoke rising all around.

    There are more than 240 forest fires burning in the province and attempts to put them out are being challenged by changing winds and hot weather.

    The Saturday temperature in the Kamloops area was forecast to be 32 C. Winds of 50 km/hr were expected to fan the fires.



    Written by CBC News Online staff
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    B.C.'s worst fire season in 5 decades forces about 8,500 from their homes

    CAROL HARRINGTON AND TIFFANY CRAWFORD

    KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) - A series of wildfires continued attacking the southern B.C. region around Kamloops on Saturday, part of the worst fire onslaught the province has seen in five decades.

    About 8,500 in the Thompson-Nicola and Thompson-Okanagan regions were forced from their homes as flames ate through tinder-dry forests and grasslands.

    Another 1,000 people were ordered out of Hillcrest, on Alberta's southern border with British Columbia, after a stubborn fired moved closer to the historic mining town.

    Thousands more residents were alerted to flee on a moment's notice as weather forecasts warned of continued high temperatures and gusty winds.

    The rampant fires prompted B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to extend a state of emergency to the entire province. He first initiated the rare measure Friday to deal with fires north of Kamloops.

    Damage from the 66-square-kilometre McLure-Barriere fire about 50 kilometres north of Kamloops remained difficult to determine.

    The fire was apparently caused by a discarded cigarette, said Denis Gaudry of the B.C. Forest Service. The area's other two fires at Rayleigh and near Falkland are also thought to have human causes.

    There were reports 25 homes, four businesses and a sawmill were destroyed when the blaze reached Barriere on Friday night, while 60 homes and another sawmill were reported destroyed in Louis Creek, Cathi Piazza, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program, said Saturday.

    "But it could be more or it could be less; it's a very early assessment," said Piazza. "It's very difficult right now - because of the conditions and the smoke - to get these assessments done."

    Joe Davies, the president of the local Industrial Wood and Allied Workers Canada, a forestry union, said the cost of replacing the mill at Louis Creek could be $40 million to $50 million.

    However Davies maintained there's no indication the mill at Barriere had been destroyed.

    A new fire detected early Saturday near Falkland, 60 kilometres southeast of Kamloops, forced the evacuation of about 1,000 people from hobby farms and acreages on the west end of the Okanagan valley near Armstrong. It also closed Highway 97C at the town of Falkland, a rescue official said.

    Late Saturday afternoon, emergency officials put residents of the Spallumcheen region, which includes Armstrong, on alert to evacuate.

    The number of evacuees is the largest amount of people displaced by fire in the province in decades.

    A haze of thick, grey smoke clings to many mountainsides. Yet vacationers continue to flock to the area, apparently intent on enjoying their B.C. Day long weekend.

    Meanwhile, about 1,000 people were ordered to leave their homes at Hillcrest, in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta, where the Lost Creek fire has been threatening communities for about a week.

    In ordering expansion of the state of emergency, Campbell said there now were 353 active fires in the province, including 25 new ones ignited in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday afternoons. The fires had torched a total of 380 square kilometres. The B.C. fires' first reported casualty, a 53-year-old man from Barriere, was in intensive care Saturday in a Kamloops hospital with burns to his face and upper body.

    "Apparently he was helping a neighbour hose down his house when his clothes caught on fire," said Dave Poulin, a spokesman for the Interior Health Authority.

    The man, who was in critical but stable condition, was to transferred to Vancouver for treatment later Saturday, Poulin said.

    Evacuation alerts were issued Saturday morning for several small communities near Kamloops, as well as the Sun Peaks resort, about 25 kilometres northeast of the city of 77,000.

    Residents of the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh were ordered out Friday after a small fire on a mountainside quickly mushroomed to 20 square kilometres.

    Evacuation centres were set up in Kamloops, Vernon and 100 Mile House. About 1,900 people had registered by Saturday morning, the Provincial Emergency Program said.

    The B.C. government requested that 85 troops be sent to assist firefighters, Lieut. Diane Grover with the Department of National Defence, said from Ottawa.

    The department is currently considering the request, but hasn't responded yet, she said.

    Among those evacuated from the Falkland-area fire were 30 clients and two staff members from the Round Lake Treatment Centre for drug and alcohol abuse.

    "I'm worried and I'm concerned but I'm happy the clients and staff are safe," said Jami Tonasket, the centre's executive director.

    Evacuees unable to stay with family and friends were being billeted in Vernon by the Red Cross.

    Don Blakley, a manager with Vernon search and rescue, said some residents who were told to leave their homes refused to go, and were frantically spraying their property with garden hoses.

    "We can't drag anybody out of their house," he said.

    Those who insisted on staying stay were asked the names of their next of kin, Blakley said.

    "When they ask why, we point out the reality that it is entirely possible that they could end up being killed," he said. "Some of them then change their minds."

    B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman, in charge of the Provincial Emergency Program, would not rule out disaster assistance for Barriere residents, adding Ottawa had been informed of the request. But he said they will have to see just how bad the town has been hit.

    The impact of British Columbia's summer of flame so far easily eclipses the most recent bad year - 1998.

    That August, a wildfire destroyed 20 houses and 15 farm buildings in Salmon Arm, about 90 kilometres east of Kamloops, forcing the evacuation of 7,000 residents. Armed forces reserves were called out to help fight that fire.

    This week's fires have cut power to 8,000-9,000 homes from Kamloops east to the Alberta border, including McLure Barriere, McBride and Valemount.

    B.C. Hydro spokesman Stephen Bruyneel said the utility lost about six kilometres of transmission line near McLure and power won't be restored for at least a week.

    "We're looking for backup generators across the province and we're looking to hook up some independent power producers," he said. "So, based on the success of those two things, we may be able to get the critical backup power up within the next few days."

    Telus Corp. said about 100 workers had begun emergency operations to restore phone service to about 5,000 customers in the region. Spokesman Nick Culo said it was hoped service would be restored by midnight Saturday.

    "We had to make sure that the area was safe first, but obviously getting the phone service back up is a priority for us," he said.

    Like the McLure-Barrier blaze, about half of the B.C. fires have been caused by people, B.C. forest protection officials estimate.

    About 1,800 firefighters were battling the flames at a cost exceeding $2.5 million a day.

    While it hasn't threatened large communities, the province's biggest fire is in the north, a 150-square-kilometre inferno northeast of Chilko Lake. There have also been evacuations in the community Scum Lake, northwest of the fire.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/2/2003 20:09 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Updates come faster than I can post them ..... praying all these firefighters and volunteers STAY SAFE OUT THERE!

    B.C.'s worst fire season in 5 decades forces more than 10,00 from their homes

    CAROL HARRINGTON AND TIFFANY CRAWFORD

    KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) - Kerry Byspalko, who didn't pack as fire loomed closer to is home, is one of hundreds of southern B.C. residents packed into an evacuation centre here Saturday with little more than the clothes on their backs.

    "Last I heard, my house was a pile of rubble, burnt to the ground," said Byspalko of Barriere, B.C., about 50 kilometres north of here.

    The town of about 3,500 was one of the biggest casualties in a series of wildfires that has swept through the region's parched mountains in the last three days and forced about 10,000 residents from their homes.

    Byspalko fled Thursday morning before the official evacuation order was given, arriving here with only his clothes and the car that helped him escape.

    "I've got absolutely nothing," said the 36-year-old forestry worker as joined others looking for government help. "It's kind of a haze at the moment."

    More than 75 of homes, 150 outbuildings and three businesses were reported destroyed in the McLure-Barriere fire, and there were disputed reports Barriere's sawmill had also burned.

    The figures include devastation in Louis Creek, a small First Nations village south of Barriere, where 60 homes went up in flames, and it did lose its sawmill.

    The rampant fires - the most destructive the province has seen in 50 years - prompted B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to extend a state of emergency to the entire province. He first initiated the rare measure Friday to deal with fires north of Kamloops.

    So far, two fires in the Kamloops area have devoured 100 square kilometres of tinder-dry forests and grasslands.

    The McLure-Barriere fire was apparently caused by a discarded cigarette, said Denis Gaudry of the B.C. Forest Service. The area's other two fires at Rayleigh and near Falkland are also thought to have human causes.

    A new fire detected early Saturday near Falkland, 60 kilometres southeast of Kamloops, forced more than 2,000 to flee their hobby farms and acreages on the west end of the Okanagan valley near Armstrong.

    It grew to 15 square kilometres and closed Highway 97C at the town of Falkland, a rescue official said.

    Also on Saturday, another fire that had been burning out of control for more almost two weeks on Alberta's southern border with British Columbia forced 1,000 people out of their homes in Hillcrest, a historic mining town.

    Damage from the 66-square-kilometre McLure-Barriere fire, 50 kilometres north of Kamloops, remains hard to determine.

    "It's very difficult right now - because of the conditions and the smoke - to get these assessments done," said Cathi Piazza, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program.

    Many residents from the area anxiously sought information at the Kamloops emergency centre about whether their homes have burned to the ground.

    "I'm hoping it's still standing," said Shirley Ross, who has lived in Barriere for more than 50 years. "It's devastating. I can't imagine if it's not there."

    Joe Davies, the president of the local Industrial Wood and Allied Workers Canada, a forestry union, said the cost of replacing the mill at Louis Creek could be $40 million to $50 million.

    However Davies maintained there's no indication the mill at Barriere had been destroyed.

    Evacuation centres were set up in Kamloops, Vernon and 100 Mile House. About 1,900 people had registered by Saturday morning, the Provincial Emergency Program said.

    The province is doling out financial assistance through its emergency social services to evacuees.

    Each person is eligible to receive $150 for new clothing. Adults and youth are receiving $42.50 for meals each day and children are getting half that amount. As well, families are getting between $70 and $100 for a hotel room.

    B.C. businesses also set up a "Fire Aid" drive, asking people do donate blankets, water, sleeping bags, pillows and light clothing for evacuees at dropoff points at London Drugs stores.

    Volunteers were also working with Kamloops SPCA workers to try to rescue pets and livestock left behind by fleeing residents.

    In ordering expansion of the state of emergency, Campbell said there now were 353 active fires in the province, including 25 new ones ignited in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday afternoons. These fires had torched a total of 380 square kilometres.

    A haze of thick, grey smoke clings to many mountainsides. Yet vacationers continue to flock to the area, apparently intent on enjoying their B.C. Day long weekend.

    The B.C. fires' first reported casualty, a 53-year-old man from Barriere, was in intensive care Saturday in a Kamloops hospital with burns to his face and upper body.

    "Apparently he was helping a neighbour hose down his house when his clothes caught on fire," said Dave Poulin, a spokesman for the Interior Health Authority.

    The man, who was in critical but stable condition, was to transferred to Vancouver for treatment later Saturday, Poulin said.

    Evacuation alerts were issued Saturday morning for several small communities near Kamloops, as well as the Sun Peaks resort, about 25 kilometres northeast of this city of 77,000.

    Residents of the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh were ordered out Friday after a small fire on a mountainside quickly mushroomed to 20 square kilometres.

    The Department of National Defence is considering a B.C. government request that 85 troops be sent to assist firefighters, department spokeswoman Lieut. Diane Grover said from Ottawa.

    Among those evacuated from the Falkland-area fire were 30 clients and two staff members from the Round Lake Treatment Centre for drug and alcohol abuse.

    "I'm worried and I'm concerned but I'm happy the clients and staff are safe," said Jami Tonasket, the centre's executive director.

    Evacuees unable to stay with family and friends were being billeted in Vernon by the Red Cross.

    Don Blakley, a manager with Vernon search and rescue, said some residents who were told to leave their homes refused to go, and were frantically spraying their property with garden hoses.

    "We can't drag anybody out of their house," he said.

    Those who insisted on staying stay were asked the names of their next of kin, Blakley said.

    "When they ask why, we point out the reality that it is entirely possible that they could end up being killed," he said. "Some of them then change their minds."

    B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman, in charge of the Provincial Emergency Program, would not rule out disaster assistance for Barriere residents, adding Ottawa had been informed of the request. But he said they will have to see just how bad the town has been hit.

    The impact of British Columbia's summer of flame so far easily eclipses the most recent bad year - 1998.

    That August, a wildfire destroyed 20 houses and 15 farm buildings in Salmon Arm, about 90 kilometres east of Kamloops, forcing the evacuation of 7,000 residents. Armed forces reserves were called out to help fight that fire.

    This week's fires have cut power to 8,000-9,000 homes from Kamloops east to the Alberta border, including McLure Barriere, McBride and Valemount.

    B.C. Hydro spokesman Stephen Bruyneel said the utility lost about six kilometres of transmission line near McLure and power won't be restored for at least a week.

    "We're looking for backup generators across the province and we're looking to hook up some independent power producers," he said. "So, based on the success of those two things, we may be able to get the critical backup power up within the next few days."

    Telus Corp. said about 100 workers had begun emergency operations to restore phone service to about 5,000 customers in the region. Spokesman Nick Culo said it was hoped service would be restored by midnight Saturday.

    "We had to make sure that the area was safe first, but obviously getting the phone service back up is a priority for us," he said.

    Like the McLure-Barrier blaze, about half of the B.C. fires have been caused by people, B.C. forest protection officials estimate.

    About 1,800 firefighters were battling the flames at a cost exceeding $2.5 million a day.

    While it hasn't threatened large communities, the province's biggest fire is in the north, a 150-square-kilometre inferno northeast of Chilko Lake. There have also been evacuations in the community Scum Lake, northwest of the fire.

    Meanwhile, crews in neighbouring Washington state were beginning to counterattack a 310-square-kilometre blaze just south of Keremeos, B.C., which has been threatening to cross into Canada.

    The Farewell Creek fire has been burning since June 29 but lower temperatures are allowing firefighters, including a 20-member Canadian crew, back to the front lines, an official said.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/2/2003 22:14 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    British Columbia Fires Force Evacuations

    .c The Associated Press

    TORONTO (AP) - The worst fire season in a half-century in the western province of British Columbia has forced more than 8,500 residents from their homes, officials said Saturday. No deaths were reported.

    Fires near Kamloops, about 150 miles northeast of Vancouver, forced thousands to evacuate Friday. More evacuation orders on Saturday pushed the evacuee toll to 8,500, the largest number of people displaced by fire in the province in decades.

    B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell declared a state of emergency, calling this the province's worst fire season in 50 years.

    Wind-swept hot and dry conditions fueled the Kamloops fires over an area of at least 33 square miles by Saturday afternoon.

    The fire torched the small town of Louis Creek, 30 miles north of Kamloops, destroying its sawmill and 60 homes, said Cathi Piazza, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program.

    Nearby Barriere lost 25 homes, four businesses and a sawmill after its 2,800 residents fled Friday afternoon, Piazza said. Interior Health Authority spokesman Dave Poulin said a 53-year-old man suffered burns to his face and upper body.

    ``Apparently he was helping a neighbor hose down his house when his clothes caught on fire,'' Poulin said, adding the man was in critical but stable condition and would be transferred to Vancouver for treatment.

    In the neighboring province of Alberta, another huge forest fire forced about 1,000 people out of Crowsnest Pass in the Rocky Mountains on Saturday.

    There are more than 320 active fires in British Columbia. It's believed that more than 170 were caused by people and the rest by lightning.

    More than 108 square miles have been burned so far and the effort to combat them involves about 1,800 firefighters and costs about $1.75 million per day.

    Campbell said firefighting crews were coming from other provinces and the United States.

    As fires continued marching through tinder-dry forest and grassland, Environment Canada forecast temperatures reaching 91 and winds gusting to 30 miles an hour, with the outlook through Tuesday little better.



    08/02/03 22:38 EDT
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Ontario and Alberta send support to help fight southern B.C. wildfires

    CAROL HARRINGTON

    KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) - Hard-pressed B.C. fire crews are getting support from Alberta and Ontario to tackle rampant wildfires that have destroyed homes and turned thousands of southern B.C. residents into refugees.

    Alberta firefighting crews were already on the ground Sunday, battling a fire north of here that crossed a wide river overnight. An incident-management team was expected to arrive later Sunday from Ontario.

    Members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry were also being sent from their base in Edmonton to support the firefighting effort, freeing local crews to concentrate on the most serious threats.

    "Crews were working overnight to establish a guard," said Glen Plummer, a public information officer for the Provincial Emergency Program. "The fire is now on both sides of the Thompson River."

    With more than 350 fires burning in British Columbia, officials are mainly concentrating on four fires in the south - two wildfires near Kamloops and another in the west Okanagan Valley.

    As the fire in the Okanagan moved in a northeast direction, residents in the community of Armstrong, known best for its cheese, were put on evacuation alert, Plummer said.

    One blaze 50 kilometres north of Kamloops that forced many of the 3,500 residents of Barriere to flee, was still burning in the downtown area and two subdivisions, Plummer said.

    The fires have forced about 10,000 residents from their homes.

    More than 75 houses, 150 outbuildings and three businesses were reported destroyed in the fire that started Wednesday near McLure, about 40 kilometres north of Kamloops, then raced to Barriere. There were disputed reports Barriere's sawmill had also burned.

    The Kamloops-area and Falkland fires have devoured more than 100 square kilometres of tinder-dry forests and grasslands.

    Fire crews will get little help from the weather. The Environment Canada forecast for the next few days calls for slightly cooler temperatures but thundershowers predicted for Tuesday also bring the threat of lightning strikes.

    Plummer could provide no updated figures Sunday morning for the fires' growth in the last 24 hours, nor how many firefighters were attacking them.

    But the devastation reported Saturday included much of Louis Creek, a village south of Barriere, where 60 homes and the town's sawmill went up in flames.

    The rampant fires - the most destructive the province has seen in 50 years - prompted B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell on Saturday to extend a state of emergency to the entire province. He first initiated the rare measure Friday to deal with fires north of Kamloops.

    The McLure-Barriere fire was apparently started by a discarded cigarette. The area's other two fires at Rayleigh, a suburb of Kamloops, and near Falkland were also thought to have human causes.

    The Falkland fire, which started Saturday morning about 100 kilometres southeast of Kamloops, forced about 1,000 to flee their hobby farms and acreages on the west end of the Okanagan valley near Armstrong.

    That blaze rapidly grew to 15 square kilometres Saturday and closed Highway 97C at Falkland.

    Also on Saturday, another fire that had been burning out of control for almost two weeks on Alberta's southern border with British Columbia forced 800 people out of their homes in Hillcrest, a historic mining town.

    With that blaze only one kilometre away from the town, residents joined more than 100 neighbours who were evacuated from their homes a week ago.

    Officials Sunday still offered no assessment of how much damage the 66-square-kilometre McLure-Barriere fire had done.

    Many residents from the area anxiously sought information at the Kamloops emergency centre about whether their homes have burned to the ground.

    "I'm hoping it's still standing," said Shirley Ross, who has lived in Barriere for more than 50 years. "It's devastating. I can't imagine if it's not there."

    Asked when Barriere residents will be allowed to return to their homes, Plummer said: "When the evacuation order is lifted, that's when they'll know."

    Joe Davies, the president of the local Industrial Wood and Allied Workers Canada, a forestry union, said the cost of replacing the mill at Louis Creek could be $40 million to $50 million.

    However Davies maintained there's no indication the mill at Barriere had been destroyed.

    Evacuation centres are set up in Kamloops, Vernon and 100 Mile House.

    The province is doling out financial assistance through its emergency social services to evacuees.

    Each person is eligible to receive $150 for new clothing. Adults and youth are receiving $42.50 for meals each day and children are getting half that amount. As well, families are getting between $70 and $100 for a hotel room.

    B.C. businesses also set up a "Fire Aid" drive, asking people do donate blankets, water, sleeping bags, pillows and light clothing for evacuees at dropoff points at London Drugs stores in the Vancouver area and B.C. Interior.

    Volunteers were also working with Kamloops SPCA workers to try to rescue pets and livestock left behind by fleeing residents.

    So far there has been only one reported casualty, a 53-year-old Barriere man badly burned on the face and upper body when he stayed behind to help a neighbour protect his home.

    The impact of British Columbia's summer of flame so far easily eclipses the most recent bad year - 1998.

    That August, a wildfire destroyed 20 houses and 15 farm buildings in Salmon Arm, about 90 kilometres east of Kamloops, forcing the evacuation of 7,000 residents. Armed forces reserves were called out to help fight that fire.

    Of the other fires raging across the province on the B.C. Day long weekend, the 150-square-kilometre Chilko Lake blaze was the biggest. No major communities were being reportedly threatened but the village of Scum Lake was put on evacuation alert Saturday.

    B.C. officials are also watching the 310-square-kilometre Farewell Creek fire in neighbouring Washington state, which started June 29 and has crept steadily closer to the Canadian border near Keremeos. Canadian firefighters were helping their American counterparts fight it.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/3/2003 12:11 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Firefighters Battle to Control Canadian Wildfires

    By Allan Dowd

    KAMLOOPS (Reuters) - Emergency crews battling the worst fire season in British Columbia for half a century were hoping on Sunday for a break in the wind to help them control three mountain fires that have forced the evacuation of an estimated 8,500 people.

    Hundreds of residents have been warned to be ready to leave at a moment's notice, because of the three large fires near Kamloops that continue to burn out of control despite the efforts of water bombers and crews on the ground.

    Premier Gordon Campbell late on Saturday expanded the state of emergency from the area of Kamloops, 170 miles northeast of Vancouver, to cover all of British Columbia.

    He said 80 Canadian military personnel would be joining the nearly 2,000 civilian firefighters battling the three fires -- in Kamloops, Barriere and Falkland.

    Some areas of south-central British Columbia, such as Kamloops, have not seen a major rainfall in several weeks and fire officials say the conditions for wildfires are the worst in recent memory.

    No rain was forecast until at least the middle of the week.

    Fire officials said winds on Saturday were less than had been forecast, and they were hoping for similar conditions on Sunday.

    A 16,500-acre blaze that was sparked last week by an improperly discarded cigarette threatened two subdivisions in the town of Barriere, about 185 miles northeast of Vancouver, having already destroyed 75 homes and a sawmill in that community and the neighboring hamlet of Louis Creek, officials said.

    Smoke and a lack of aircraft were hampering efforts to make a complete survey of the damage and it was unclear when the estimated 3,500 evacuated residents would be allowed to return to the area, said Glen Plummer, a spokesman for the Provincial Emergency Management Agency.

    HEAVY SMOKE IN THE AIR

    Residents of Kamloops awoke on Sunday to a cloud of smoke over the city that was thick enough to make the sun look like a blood red dot as it rose over the nearby mountains.

    Most of the smoke was produced by a fire that has grown to about 9,900-acre in the hills overlooking the city. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Kamloops residents have been evacuated because of the blaze.

    A 2,470.000-acre fire near Falkland, southeast of Kamloops, has destroyed at least one home and forced the evacuation of 1,000 people. The town of Armstrong with about 4,250 residents has been put on high alert, Plummer said.

    No deaths have been reported because of the fires, but medical officials told local media that a Barriere man was injured after he ignored orders to evacuate and was burned trying to protect a neighbor's house from the flames.

    Alberta is also struggling with forest fires, including a 39,540-acre blaze in the Crowsnest Pass area of southeastern Alberta that has forced the evacuation of 1,000 residents near the community of Hillcrest.

    Canadian officials are also keeping a close eye on two wildfires in Montana and one in Washington state that have threatened to burn over the border.

    08/03/03 12:38 ET
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
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    Forest Fires Spread Across Western Canada

    By JEREMY HAINSWORTH
    .c The Associated Press

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Hot, dry weather and gusting winds spread the worst forest fires in a half-century Sunday across more of western Canada, consuming dozens of buildings and forcing the evacuation of 10,000 people.

    British Columbia declared a state of emergency to hasten federal help, with firefighters from Alberta and Ontario provinces joining military troops to help battle 350 blazes.

    In neighboring Alberta, another spate of fires threatened a community in the mountainous region near the U.S. border with Montana.

    The fires considered the most destructive in the Pacific province in 50 years have forced 10,000 people from their homes and destroyed houses and buildings in some communities. No deaths have been reported.

    In British Columbia, the two most serious fires were north and west of Kamloops in a region about 180 miles northwest of Vancouver.

    One has covered more than 39 square miles of forests and grasslands dried by a hot summer with little rain in recent weeks.

    Dozens of houses and other buildings were believed destroyed in another fire near McLure, 25 miles north of Kamloops, that raced to the nearby community of Barriere on Saturday.

    The 25-square-mile fire still burned Sunday through the center of Barriere and two subdivisions, authorities said. It also torched Louis Creek, a village to the south, destroying dozens of homes.

    One injury has been reported - a 53-year-old Barriere man who was badly burned on the face and upper body when he stayed behind to help a neighbor.

    Authorities say the McLure-Barriere fire was apparently started by a discarded cigarette.

    Officials also reported 80 forest fires in the prairie province of Saskatchewan and 14 fires in neighboring Manitoba, including a 154-square-mile blaze near Thompson in the remote north.

    In Alberta, a fire burning for nearly two weeks near the border with British Columbia forced 800 people from their homes in Hillcrest, a mining town.

    British Columbia officials also are watching a 120-square-mile fire at Farewell Creek in neighboring Washington state.



    08/03/03 14:05 EDT
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Major B.C. wildfires rapidily growing, forcing more residents to flee homes

    CAROL HARRINGTON

    KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) - Wildfires that have forced more than 10,000 southern B.C. residents from their homes are rapidly growing despite efforts from hard-pressed firefighters, officials said Sunday.

    Although firefighters have made progress in specific areas, new thermal images and calculations show that three major fires in the Kamloops area have expanded and the six-day forecast is predicting more dry, hot weather.

    Hampering the firefighting mission is the fact pilots flying the 37 waterbombing planes and helicopters have been working so much overtime, most now are restricted to 12 flying hours each day, said Jeff Berry, manager of the B.C. Forest Service air tanker program.

    "We have to manage the fleet .*.*. and try to accomplish all of these core objectives we have out there," he said.

    The latest estimates of the McLure-Barriere fire, about 50 kilometres north of Kamloops, has spread by almost 30 per cent compared with Saturday's estimates, now covering more than 84 square kilometres.

    The Strawberry Hill fire, which threatened the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh, has grown to about 34 square kilometres from 20 square kilometres.

    And the Cedar Hill blaze, southeast of Kamloops near Falkland, is 12 kilometres away from Armstrong, a community on evacuation alert, and is about 8.4 square kilometres in size.

    In Alberta, clouds and light showers early Sunday helped crews trying to contain an out-of-control fire in the Crowsnest Pass region in he southwest corner of the province.

    The rain was not enough to douse the blaze but was welcome nonetheless after a horrific day Saturday that saw temperatures above 30 degrees and gusting southwest winds that drove the fire to within one kilometre of Hillcrest.

    Another 2,700 people in the area remained on evacuation alert.

    The remaining 800 residents of the historic mining town were forced from their homes Saturday, joining 100 evacuees who had not seen their homes for a week.

    Meanwhile, Parks Canada reported crews had contained a fire in Jasper National Park that had started as a controlled burn, but some park facilities remained closed.

    In southern British Columbia, police in threatened communities are trying to protect the evicted residents' homes from looting and vandalism.

    "We're in there looking after those homes in the areas in trying to keep them safe," said Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Mike Stewart.

    Officials said they were aware many evacuated residents are worried about their homes because they don't know if they have been torched by the blaze. But the fire is too dangerous for to risk firefighters making detailed damage assessments, an official said.

    "These people are going through an awful lot, the evacuees; they are traumatized,"said Rod Salem of the provincial regional emergency operations centre.

    "Not knowing has got to be the worst thing in the world and we are moving as fast as we can. But we are not going to put people's lives in danger to go in and count houses at this point in time."

    Hundreds of B.C. firefighters were being augmented from with crews from Alberta, itself facing major fire threats, and Ontario, as well as about 100 soldiers from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry regiment in Edmonton.

    "The military will come in, we will put them through a very quick bootcamp and they will be on the line, helping us with firefighting," said Denis Gaudry of the B.C. Forest Service.

    Ontario has sent more than 350 firefighters and administrators, as well as value-protection kits designed to protect homes and other property from fire.

    "We've been able to do this because of the rainy weather we've gotten for the past week or so," said Christine Rosche of Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources.

    "Especially with British Columbia declaring a state of emergency, it is a priority to help them out. We got a lot of help from out west with our fires, so we are quite happy to be able to help them out too."

    Waterbombers have been brought in from New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.

    There are several areas where it's too dangerous for aircraft to drop water and retardant on the blaze, Gaudry said.

    The province has more than 700 firefighters working these fires. Most who have been trying to deter the McLure-Barriere blaze from completely destroying the town of Barriere, Gaudry said.

    Others working at the perimeter of the Cedar Hill fire near Falkland in the Okanagan, successfully stopping it from growing overnight, he said.

    Another 250 people in the First Nations community of Whispering Pines and a neighbouring subdivision were issued evacuation orders late Saturday after the McLure-Barriere fire jumped the North Thompson River.

    "Crews were working overnight to establish a guard," said Glen Plummer, a public information officer for the Provincial Emergency Program. "The fire is now on both sides of the Thompson River."

    With more than 350 fires burning in British Columbia, officials are mainly concentrating on the fires in the south that have menaced major communities.

    Fire crews will get little help from the weather, Gaudry said. Temperatures that have hovered in the low-to-mid 30-degree range may cool a little but "the six-to-10-day outlook looks much the same."

    Thundershowers predicted for Tuesday also bring the threat of lightning strikes.

    Finally getting the fires under control always rests with the ground forces, Berry stressed.

    "We don't put out fires from an airplane," said Berry.

    British Columbia is under a state of emergency to deal with what Premier Gordon Campbell called the most destructive fire season the province has seen in 50 years.

    About half the fires burning in the province were caused by people.

    The McLure-Barriere fire was apparently started by a discarded cigarette and the Strawberry Hill fire, threatening the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh, and the Cedar Hill fire near Falkland were also thought to have human causes.

    About 3,500 people had registered with emergency social services in Kamloops, deputy fire chief Dave Marcotte said.

    About half were housed in local hotels and motels, with the rest staying in halls and gymnasiums. They could be moved to hotels once weekend visitors to the city check out, he said.

    "The city of Kamloops continues to run," he said. "We still have soccer tournaments; we still have swimming meets .*.*."

    The hurried evacuations Friday and Saturday were orderly and largely trouble-free, said Stewart, adding local RCMP officers were reinforced by Mounties from the Vancouver area and elsewhere.

    "We've had good co-operation from evacuees and the motoring public," he said.

    Asked when Barriere residents will be allowed to return to their homes, Plummer said: "When the evacuation order is lifted, that's when they'll know."

    Evacuation centres are set up in Kamloops, Vernon and 100 Mile House.

    The province is doling out financial assistance through its emergency social services to evacuees.

    Each person is eligible to receive $150 for new clothing. Adults and youth are receiving $42.50 for meals each day and children are getting half that amount. As well, families are getting between $70 and $100 for a hotel room.

    B.C. businesses also set up a "Fire Aid" drive, asking people do donate blankets, water, sleeping bags, pillows and light clothing for evacuees at dropoff points at London Drugs stores in the Vancouver area and B.C. Interior.

    Telus Corp. said it had restored phone service to 4,200 customers using backup equipment, with 800 customers still waiting to be reconnected.

    B.C. Hydro was working to restore electricity to about 7,500 customers from Kamloops to the Alberta border, with full power restoration expected to take a week.

    Telus also offered residents of Blairmore, Alta., in the fire-threatened Crowsnest Pass, emergency resources if they need it, the phone company said.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/3/2003 17:28 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Firefighters Battle to Control Canadian Wildfires

    By Allan Dowd

    KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (Reuters) - Emergency crews battling the worst fire season in British Columbia for half a century said on Sunday they were making progress against three mountain fires that have forced the evacuation of an estimated 8,500 people.

    Winds that had fueled the large fires near Kamloops, about 275 km (170 miles) northeast of Vancouver, have died down somewhat, but heavy smoke hampered efforts to get firefighters into some areas and prevented aircraft from surveying the damage, officials said.

    Premier Gordon Campbell has put all of British Columbia, which is about the size of France and Germany combined, under a state of emergency, and about 80 Canadian military personnel

    are being brought in to assist the more than 700 civilian firefighters already in the Kamloops area.

    Some areas of south-central British Columbia have not seen a major rainfall in several weeks and fire officials say the conditions for wildfires are the worst in recent memory. More than 300 fires are burning across the province, although most are small.

    No rain was forecast until at least the middle of the week.

    Denis Gaudry of the B.C. Forest Service in Kamloops said lower winds on Saturday and early Sunday allowed crews to "make a good start" against the fires, but he added: "They are not under control."

    Local emergency officials have estimated the total number of evacuations in the area at about 8,500 people, but said they do not have an exact figure.

    A 8,400-hectare (20,750-acre) blaze that was sparked last week by a discarded cigarette threatened two subdivisions in the town of Barriere, about 185 miles (300 km) northeast of Vancouver.

    That fire has already destroyed a sawmill, owned by the Tolko company, in the neighboring hamlet of Louis Creek and 75 homes in the surrounding area, officials said.

    Officials urged patience from the 3,500 residents evacuated from the Barriere fire who want to know about their homes. They said ground crews could not examine individual properties because the fire was still active and smoke was hampering aircraft.

    "We're moving as fast as we can, but we're not going to put people in danger," said Rod Salem of the Provincial Emergency Management Agency.

    HEAVY SMOKE IN THE AIR

    Residents of Kamloops awoke on Sunday to a cloud of smoke over the city that was thick enough to make the early morning sun look like a blood red dot as it rose over the nearby mountains.

    Most of the smoke was produced by a fire that has grown to about 3,370 hectares (8,325-acre) in the hills overlooking the city. Between 3,000 to 4,000 Kamloops residents have been evacuated because of the blaze, according to local media.

    An 840-hectare (2,075-acre) fire near Falkland, southeast of Kamloops, has destroyed at least one home and forced the evacuation of 1,000 people. The town of Armstrong with about 4,250 residents has been put on high alert, officials said.

    No deaths have been reported because of the fires, but medical officials told local media that a Barriere man was injured after he ignored orders to evacuate and was burned trying to protect a neighbor's house from the flames.

    Alberta is also struggling with forest fires, including a 18,000-hectare (44,480-acre) blaze in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta that has forced the evacuation of 1,000 residents near the community of Hillcrest.

    The area received some rain late Saturday, but the wind had begun to increase on Sunday, according to Alberta fire officials.

    Canadian officials are also keeping a close eye on two wildfires in Montana and one in Washington state that have threatened to burn over the border.



    08/03/03 18:02 ET
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    Major B.C. wildfires rapidly growing, forcing more residents to flee homes

    CAROL HARRINGTON

    KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) - Wildfires that have forced more than 10,000 southern B.C. residents from their homes are rapidly growing despite efforts from hard-pressed firefighters, officials said Sunday.

    Although firefighters have made progress in specific areas, new thermal images and calculations show that three major fires in the Kamloops area have expanded and the six-day forecast is predicting more dry, hot weather.

    Hampering the firefighting mission is the fact pilots flying the 37 waterbombing planes and helicopters have been working so much overtime, most now are restricted to 12 flying hours each day, said Jeff Berry, manager of the B.C. Forest Service air tanker program.

    "We have to manage the fleet .*.*. and try to accomplish all of these core objectives we have out there," he said.

    The latest estimates of the McLure-Barriere fire, about 50 kilometres north of Kamloops, found it had spread by almost 30 per cent compared with Saturday's estimates, now covering more than 84 square kilometres.

    There was a bit of good news Sunday afternoon, when emergency officials lifted part of an evacuation order for a small area on the west side of the North Thompson River south of McLure after winds shifted. But the estimated 250 residents were told to be ready to move again.

    The Strawberry Hill fire, which threatened the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh, has grown to about 34 square kilometres from 20 square kilometres.

    And the Cedar Hill blaze, southeast of Kamloops near Falkland, is 12 kilometres away from Armstrong, a community on evacuation alert, and is about 8.4 square kilometres in size.

    In Alberta, clouds and light showers early Sunday helped crews trying to contain an out-of-control fire in the Crowsnest Pass region in the southwest corner of the province.

    The rain was not enough to douse the blaze but was welcome nonetheless after a horrific day Saturday that saw temperatures above 30 degrees and gusting southwest winds that drove the fire to within one kilometre of Hillcrest.

    The remaining 800 residents of the historic mining town were forced from their homes Saturday, joining 100 evacuees who had not seen their homes for a week.

    Another 1,000 people in neighbouring Blairmore were also told to leave Sunday.

    Meanwhile, Parks Canada reported crews had contained a fire in Jasper National Park that had started as a controlled burn, but some park facilities remained closed.

    B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, who Saturday extended a state of emergency to cover the entire province, will visit the Kamloops area, spokesman Mike Morton said Sunday.

    Morton said Campbell was being briefed regularly by telephone but was awaiting the advice of emergency officials on when it would be best for him to tour the devastated region. He also plans to visit evacuation centres, Morton said.

    Campbell spoke with Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Sunday about potential disaster relief but no commitments were received, he said.

    However, Defence Minister John McCallum called B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman on Sunday and told him he would consider further aid under the disaster financial-assistance program once he received details about what was needed, said Randy Mylyk, McCallum's spokesman.

    Police in threatened B.C. communities are trying to protect the evicted residents' homes from looting and vandalism.

    "We're in there looking after those homes in the areas in trying to keep them safe," said Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Mike Stewart.

    Officials said they were aware many evacuated residents are worried about their homes because they don't know if they have been torched by the blaze. But the fire is too dangerous for to risk firefighters making detailed damage assessments, an official said.

    "These people are going through an awful lot, the evacuees; they are traumatized,"said Rod Salem of the provincial regional emergency operations centre.

    "Not knowing has got to be the worst thing in the world and we are moving as fast as we can. But we are not going to put people's lives in danger to go in and count houses at this point in time."

    Hundreds of B.C. firefighters were being augmented from with crews from Alberta, itself facing major fire threats, and Ontario, as well as about 100 soldiers from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry regiment in Edmonton.

    "The military will come in, we will put them through a very quick bootcamp and they will be on the line, helping us with firefighting," said Denis Gaudry of the B.C. Forest Service.

    The soldiers are getting a crash course in fighting fires in mountainous terrain and will be assigned to tackle fires that have been brought under control because they don't have the expertise to be handle out-of-control fires, said Mylyk..

    Ontario has sent more than 350 firefighters and administrators, as well as value-protection kits designed to protect homes and other property from fire.

    "We've been able to do this because of the rainy weather we've gotten for the past week or so," said Christine Rosche of Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources.

    "Especially with British Columbia declaring a state of emergency, it is a priority to help them out. We got a lot of help from out west with our fires, so we are quite happy to be able to help them out too."

    Waterbombers have been brought in from New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec.

    There are several areas where it's too dangerous for aircraft to drop water and retardant on the blaze, Gaudry said.

    The province has more than 700 firefighters working these fires. Most who have been trying to deter the McLure-Barriere blaze from completely destroying the town of Barriere, Gaudry said.

    Others working at the perimeter of the Cedar Hill fire near Falkland in the Okanagan, successfully stopping it from growing overnight, he said.

    Another 250 people in the First Nations community of Whispering Pines and a neighbouring subdivision were issued evacuation orders late Saturday after the McLure-Barriere fire jumped the North Thompson River.

    "Crews were working overnight to establish a guard," said Glen Plummer, a public information officer for the Provincial Emergency Program. "The fire is now on both sides of the Thompson River."

    With more than 350 fires burning in British Columbia, officials are mainly concentrating on the fires in the south that have menaced major communities.

    Fire crews will get little help from the weather, Gaudry said. Temperatures that have hovered in the low-to-mid 30-degree range may cool a little but "the six-to-10-day outlook looks much the same."

    Thundershowers predicted for Tuesday also bring the threat of lightning strikes.

    Finally getting the fires under control always rests with the ground forces, Berry stressed.

    "We don't put out fires from an airplane," said Berry.

    British Columbia is under a state of emergency to deal with what Premier Gordon Campbell called the most destructive fire season the province has seen in 50 years.

    About half the fires burning in the province were caused by people.

    The McLure-Barriere fire was apparently started by a discarded cigarette and the Strawberry Hill fire, threatening the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh, and the Cedar Hill fire near Falkland were also thought to have human causes.

    About 3,500 people had registered with emergency social services in Kamloops, deputy fire chief Dave Marcotte said.

    About half were housed in local hotels and motels, with the rest staying in halls and gymnasiums. They could be moved to hotels once weekend visitors to the city check out, he said.

    "The city of Kamloops continues to run," he said. "We still have soccer tournaments; we still have swimming meets .*.*."

    The hurried evacuations Friday and Saturday were orderly and largely trouble-free, said Stewart, adding local RCMP officers were reinforced by Mounties from the Vancouver area and elsewhere.

    "We've had good co-operation from evacuees and the motoring public," he said.

    Asked when Barriere residents will be allowed to return to their homes, Plummer said: "When the evacuation order is lifted, that's when they'll know."

    Evacuation centres are set up in Kamloops, Vernon and 100 Mile House.

    The province is doling out financial assistance through its emergency social services to evacuees.

    Each person is eligible to receive $150 for new clothing. Adults and youth are receiving $42.50 for meals each day and children are getting half that amount. As well, families are getting between $70 and $100 for a hotel room.

    B.C. businesses also set up a "Fire Aid" drive, asking people do donate blankets, water, sleeping bags, pillows and light clothing for evacuees at dropoff points at London Drugs stores in the Vancouver area and B.C. Interior.

    Telus Corp. said it had restored phone service to 4,200 customers using backup equipment, with 800 customers still waiting to be reconnected.

    B.C. Hydro was working to restore electricity to about 7,500 customers from Kamloops to the Alberta border, with full power restoration expected to take a week.

    Telus also offered residents of Blairmore, Alta., in the fire-threatened Crowsnest Pass, emergency resources if they need it, the phone company said.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/3/2003 21:41 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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