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7/21/2009

Forest fires force thousands to flee in Canada

VANCOUVER — Raging forest fires in western Canada forced some 11,000 people to spend their third night away from home with thousands more poised to flee the flames, local officials said.
Hundreds of firefighters backed by dozens of helicopters and air tankers battled fires in Canada's westernmost province to contain the blaze that began consuming thousands of acres at the weekend.
Officials have ordered another 6,000 people to be on evacuation alert in case fires worsen in suburbs adjacent to forests, mostly in the Okanagan resort and wine-growing area in British Columbia.
"Given the dry fuels and difficult steep terrain, and very hot temperatures and low relative humidity, we are taking no chances," fire information officer Jerry Wearing told AFP.
"We're into an historically-high fire danger situation" especially in the southern interior, said Wearing.
Weather forecasts from the Environment Canada service predict continued hot dry weather in the area, with daytime temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
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