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British Columbia state of emergency fires
« on: Aug 2nd, 2003, 12:17pm »
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i am currently 525 km from this fire.  that is, 326.22 miles.  yesterday there were winds which enabled the many, many fires we already had to spread.  please keep these people in your prayers or thoughts.
 
Thousands flee B.C. fire
 

 Photo: Murray Mitchell/CP
Louis Creek residents use a car and motorcycle to lead horses away from a fast-approaching forest fire near Barriere, B.C., Friday.
 
 
Canadian Press  
 
Kamloops, B.C. A massive wildfire that prompted the B.C. government to declare a state of emergency in the Thompson-Nicola district Friday destroyed dozens of homes in the community of Barriere, emergency officials said Friday night.  
 
Bob Buglsag of the provincial emergency program said at least 60 homes and a sawmill had been destroyed.  
 
A tow truck driver still in Barriere on Friday night said he wasn't sure how many homes had been destroyed, although he knew the community's small downtown area was unscathed.  
 
"I don't think we've lost that many homes yet, that I'm aware of, anyway," said Bill Kershaw, a Barriere resident, who said his trucks might be used to help transport fire crews.  
 
From where he was standing, Mr. Kershaw said he could see the fire burning trees a few hundred metres up the hillside, moving away from his home, and clouding the sky above the community with ash and red-tinged smoke.  
 
"I've never been in a war zone but that's what it reminds you of," he said, describing how earlier in the day he had watched heavily-laden cars exit the area.  
 
"Every car going by is loaded down with furniture and snowmobiles," he said, explaining that the area was deserted, save for emergency crews.  
 
Residents were shepherded to Kamloops, along with people from neighbouring McLure and its surrounding area, where the estimated 40-square-kilometre fire broke out Wednesday.  
 
Vancouver radio station CKNW said by Friday evening, a total of 7,500 people in central British Columbia had been forced from their homes.  
 
Also on Friday, a new fire burning on a mountain visible from downtown Kamloops forced people living in several nearby residential areas, including the suburb of Rayleigh, to flee.  
 
As the fire jumped a highway and inched perilously close to the subdivision, several hundred Rayleigh residents were left no option but to be ferried across the North Thompson River by Department of Fisheries and Oceans boats, said Cpl. Mike Stewart of Kamloops RCMP.  
 
"Most people in Kamloops can see this fire," said Glen Plummer, a spokesman for the provincial emergency program.  
 
Fire information officials said the blaze seemed to be burning away from Kamloops by Friday night.  
 
Earlier Friday, Premier Gordon Campbell said the state of emergency was aimed at helping crews fighting fires and to ensure a co-ordinated response to evacuating areas threatened by the expanding wildfire.  
 
"This is the worst situation we've had and the driest circumstances that we've measured in the last 50 years," said Mr. Campbell in an interview.  
 
"In all likelihood, British Columbians have never lived through a drier forest situation than we are living through this summer."  
 
Firefighters had to be pulled back from the Barriere-McLure blaze due to the erratic and volatile nature of the inferno, said Mr. Campbell.  
 
The McLure-Barriere fire is one of 328 active fires in British Columbia.  
 
It's believed 171 were caused by people and the rest by lightning.  
 
A total of 280 square kilometres have been burned by major blazes so far and the effort to combat them involves about 1,800 firefighters and costs about $2.5-million per day.  
 
"By declaring a state of emergency in the Thompson-Nicola, we will be able to deploy resources quickly and effectively where they are needed to support evacuations, fight fires and protect public safety," Mr. Campbell said.  
 
The premier said fire crews were also coming in from other provinces and the United States to help fight the fires.  
 
British Columbia and neighbouring Alberta are the worst hit in what is turning out to be a scorching fire season.  
 
In Alberta, fire crews were bracing for wind shifts that could fan the 140-square-kilometre Lost Creek blaze in southwest Alberta, four kilometres from the town of Blairmore.  
 
More than 800 firefighters, nine water bombers, 21 helicopters, 34 bulldozers and 20 water trucks worked to try and contain the out of control blaze.  
 
About 100 people from the mining town of Hillcrest have been out of their homes since Sunday.  
 
About 2,700 residents in the Rocky Mountain region were still on alert to evacuate quickly if necessary.  
 
In Ontario, major blazes that had threatened communities in the northern part of the province have been brought under control, said fire intelligence officer John Terpstra.  
 
Nova Scotia officials were keeping a watch because of hot, dry conditions but no fires had been reported Friday.  
 
Some Barriere residents didn't wait for the official evacuation order.  
 
"I'm just trying to get my kids out the door," said Cindy Andrews on Friday morning. "This (fire) is unbelievable, it seems to be coming quite quickly."  
 
Barriere resident Donald Campbell said the community's streets were choked with smoke.  
 
"I got my razor and my toothbrush and that's all I'm taking. I travel light," Campbell said. "Oh and my cigarettes too."  
 
B.C. Forest Service spokesman Steve Bachop said power was out in and around McLure, the Yellowhead Highway was shut down, and the CN Railway line had been closed.  
 
B.C. Hydro spokesman Stephen Bruyneel added that at least 7,500 homes between Barriere and the Alberta border had lost power.  
 
Hot weather and variable winds gusting to 30 kilometres per hour also continued to challenge crews battling British Columbia's largest wildfire, a 110-square-kilometre inferno burning northeast of Chilko Lake on Friday.  
 
The Cariboo-region blaze had been 60 per cent contained on Thursday, but winds fanned the flames east into nearby Nuntsi Provincial Park.  
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #1 on: Aug 2nd, 2003, 12:21pm »
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Thousands flee fires in Interior
Town of Barriere in flames as state of emergency declared: B.C. has turned into a deadly tinder box where forest fires can rage at 1,000 degrees Celsius and travel at more than five kilometres an hour. Vancouver Sun reporter Petti Fong and photographer Stuart Davis travelled to the scene of the treacherous fires north of Kamloops to bring you the stories of the besieged families and heroic firefighters in the area.
 

   
A firefighter is backlit by the orange glow of a fire in westside Kamloops. The blaze was brought under control before noon although other fires in the region continued to grow.  
 
 
 

 
CREDIT: Stuart Davis, Vancouver Sun  
   
Flames and smoke surround a helicopter as it prepares to drop a load of water on a fire at the northern edge of Kamloops Friday.  
   
 
CREDIT: Stuart Davis, Vancouver Sun  
   
A Kamloops firefighter battles the Mount Paul fire, one of  
   
ADVERTISEMENT  
 
   
The destruction of Barriere appeared imminent Friday night with fires spotted in structures throughout the Interior town 65 kilometres north of Kamloops and at least 60 homes reported destroyed.
 
The fate of the town of 2,800 people seemed sealed just hours after B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell declared a state of emergency Friday in the province's Thompson-Nicola regional district. Approximately 7,500 people were removed from the area throughout the day.
 
Bob Bugslag, director of the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre, said a sawmill on the outskirts of the town was seen burning Friday night but he could not confirm if the entire town was at risk of succumbing to the fast-moving forest fire because thick smoke obscured the small community from view.
 
However, Bugslag noted, an evening forest service overflight of the town reported structures on fire throughout the community.
 
An removal order was issued at mid-day Friday for about 2,500 residents in Barriere and another 1,000 in North Barriere Lake and East Barriere Lake where a 25-square-kilometre fire raged.
 
An additional 4,000 residents of Rayleigh and the Paul Lake area just north of Kamloops fled their homes Friday afternoon as another wildfire blazed through tinder-dry forest, said Bugslag.  
 
That fire, which broke out within city limits at about 4 p.m. Friday on the side of Strawberry Hill, covered 200 hectares after just a few minutes, said provincial emergency program spokesman Glen Plummer, and was reported to be burning over 250 hectares by Friday evening.  
 
Plummer said smoke from the fire was visible to most residents of the city.
 
Kamloops residents from suburbs north of Kamloops, along with displaced residents of the Barriere area, were told to head into town to emergency centres  
 
to check in and find accommodations.
 
The McLure Lake area fire that on Friday threatened the future of Barriere covered only two square kilometres on Wednesday, but fanned by high winds and hot, dry conditions, it blanketed 25 square kilometres by noon Friday. It has also forced the evacuation of McClure and Lewis Creek residents and forced the closure of a portion of Highway 5.  
 
"This is a really, really serious matter," Campbell said. "This is going to be a heck of a fight."
 
The state of emergency allows the province "to draw resources from any firefighting capability," the premier said.
 
"The professionals are saying these are the most erratic fires they have every seen. They're difficult to get under control in the best conditions and this is the worst condition ... . We have no idea how long this will last. We can only hope for torrential rains."
 
Kamloops Fire Centre manager Dennis Gaudry told reporters the McLure Lake fire moved 12 kilometres in 24 hours and expanded to more than 4,000 hectares. According to Gaudry, the fire was travelling faster over ground than a person and was creating its own wind, meaning it can feed itself. The fire was also igniting its own spot fires up to a kilometre ahead of the principal blaze. Firefighters were removed Friday, due to the extreme nature of the fire.
 
"This fire is off the scale," said Gaudry. "It has become too dangerous to fight."
 
The state of emergency declared by Campbell gives the provincial fire commissioner, the forests ministry and the Provincial Emergency Program authority under the Emergency Program Act to take every action necessary to fight the fires and protect residents and their communities.
 
Campbell noted that although B.C. has some of the best firefighters in North America, the province has already had to request assistance from Alberta and the United States.
 
"We need the professionals on the ground to inform us what to do. We're trying to get this out through any means. It's a very grave situation," he said.  
 
There are approximately 2,000 firefighters now on the ground trying to deal with 328 fires -- 171 caused by people and the rest by lightning. Since midnight Thursday, another 44 fires have started.  
 
Campbell said there were 28,000 hectares burning in total -- with 4,000 hectares blazing out of control in McClure Lake. Just a few hours later, the number of hectares burning had increased to 31,191.
 
The McLure Lake fire apparently started when a resident in the town McLure went out to his backyard for a cigarette, said Max Arnason.
 
"He stubbed the cigarette out with his foot, turned his back for a second and it flared up. He went to get his watering hose but it was too late. He ran to McLure Restaurant and told them to call 911," Arnason said. "He must feel really awful right now."
 
Everyone in the area knew that fire was a strong possibility, even imminent, given the dry, hot conditions, Arnason said.
 
The main highway connecting Barriere with Kamloops has been closed and the village of McLure, with about 40 residents, was evacuated Thursday night. McLure residents were sent to Kamloops and Barriere before being re-evacuated again Friday.
 
B.C. Forest Service spokesman Steve Bachop said power was out in and around McLure, the Yellowhead Highway was shut down, and the CN Railway line was closed.
 
B.C. Hydro spokesman Stephen Bruyneel added that at least 7,500 homes between Barriere and the Alberta border had lost power.  
 
Ash from the fire was raining onto Barriere.
 
Barriere resident Don Tinker said he packed his bags and checked his 1968 Dodge to make sure it was in running condition.
 
Contacted by phone one hour after the evacuation order was made, Tinker told a reporter he didn't know what was going on because the power was out and his radio and television weren't working.
 
"I've been waiting for a knock on the door. The last I heard we were on high alert," said the 62-year-old, who lives alone. While talking with The Vancouver Sun, Tinker said he walked outside and was alarmed by what he saw.
 
"It didn't look too bad at first. There was some smoke and then I could see the flames," Tinker said. "That's when I thought, 'Time to get out.' "
 
Tinker, who had packed family pictures, his birth certificate and other personal items, planned to stay with his son in Clearwater.
 
Keith and Anne Willis faced the potential of a dreadful repeat of three years ago when a forest fire turned their dream home into ash. The couple lost everything in that fire and faced the same horrible prospect again on Friday.
 
"It's really bad where we are," said Keith Willis at an evacuation centre in Kamloops. "When you are at our place in South Barriere Lake, you can't even breathe, the smoke is so bad."
 
With flames closing in fast, Cindy Andrews told a reporter: "I'm just trying to get my kids out the door. This [fire] is unbelievable, it seems to be coming quite quickly."
 
Andrews said she was planning to go to the Chu Chua native reserve about 20 kilometres north of Barriere.
 
"But all the roads have been closed, so it's going to be hard to get out," she said.
 
Another resident said the streets in Barriere were choked with smoke snaking over a hill.
 
"You can't see half a block across the street right now because of the smoke," said Donald Campbell.  
 
Campbell said he would probably head to Kamloops.
 
"I got my razor and my toothbrush and that's all I'm taking. I travel light," he said. "Oh, and my cigarettes too."  
 
At Rayleigh, north of Kamloops, resident Richard Martin was putting a six-pack in the cooler and getting his steaks ready for the barbecue when he looked up and saw the biggest plume of smoke he had ever seen in his life.  
 
"I looked at my wife and said, honey, we have a problem," Martin said as he and Peggy Schuetze waited by the side of Highway 5 after being evacuated out of his home. "I said: 'It's time to go right now. Forget the beer. Forget the barbecue. Let's get the dogs and the cats and go.' "
 
In Kamloops, their daughter Deanne Schuetze was frantically trying to get back home to rescue the pets and the family had a tearful reunion Friday afternoon at the police barricades.
 
"I was worried that the dogs wouldn't get out," said Schuetze, her eyes red with tears and the smoke that hung overhead. "I thought about my photo albums. My stuff. And I don't want to think about the other things we left behind."
 
Throughout the scorching hot day, residents of the areas north of Kamloops kept looking up at the blue sky, gauged for themselves the distance of the smoke and waited.  
 
By mid-afternoon, Shawn Wenger, working for the day in Merritt, couldn't wait another second and headed to her home which is located between Rayleigh and Heffley.
 
"The cloud [of smoke] just looked so big, so gray," Wenger said. "I could see it and I kept talking to my husband, but I didn't want to wait any more. Especially after he told me the wind was blowing really close to the house"
 
Like Martin and Schuetze, Wenger had to wait by the side of Highway 5 after police and fire rescue services closed the road heading north out of Kamloops and ordered everyone out.
 
Wenger's husband and three-year-old son were on their way out and she waited anxiously for them to appear.
 
"He's bringing the dog, but the horses have to stay there. Not much we can do about that. I just hope that it doesn't get too close to us," she said. "My mother and father-in-law, who live on the same property say they're going to stay."
 
Hot weather and variable winds gusting to 30 kilometres per hour also continued to challenge crews battling British Columbia's largest wildfire, a 110-square-kilometre inferno burning northeast of Chilko Lake on Friday.
 
The Cariboo-region blaze had been 60 per cent contained on Thursday, but winds fanned the flames east into nearby Nuntsi Provincial Park.
 
Eight helicopters, more than 150 personnel and heavy equipment continue to fight the fire.
 
One resident was evacuated and 17 residences were on alert.
 
Yet another blaze leapt into flame late Friday night in the exclusive Rose Hill neighbourhood of Kamloops. RCMP believe the fire, which covered about one hectare, was deliberately set.
 
Resident Ben Whitman said he was in his father-in-law Dave Cooper's house on Rose Hill at around 8 p.m. when they saw a bush begin to burn.
 
"We know it must have been someone who set it because it just went up so quickly," Whitman said.
 
The two men rushed down the hillside and using coast and their feet, stamped out fire as best they could while others called the fire department. About one hectare burned before firefighters put out the blaze.
 
Constable Neil Macleod of the Kamloops RCMP said a criminal investigation will begin into how the fire started.
 
"It doesn't automatically combust by itself. It might have been someone who tossed a cigarette," Macleod said.
 
THIS YEAR IN B.C.'S FORESTS
 
- 1,069 fires  
 
- 28,000 hectares ablaze with 4,000 hectares burning out of control
 
- 31,191 hectares already burned
 
- $41.2 million of this year's $56-million firefighting budget already spent
 
- 3,200 loggers idled
 
 
Ran with fact box "THIS YEAR IN B.C.'S FORESTS", which has been appended to the end of the story.
 
Copyright 2003 Vancouver Sun
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #2 on: Aug 2nd, 2003, 2:00pm »
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Having been in a forest fire twice, my thoughts are with all the people having to deal with this. Sad  My heart goes out to all the animals and wildlife also losing their homes.  Cry
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #3 on: Aug 3rd, 2003, 10:39am »
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http://www.canada.com/vancouver/story.asp?id=AA91A740-4AA2-44FB-A7ED-D42 1E3CE1682
 
B.C. mobilizes during fire crisis
   
John Bermingham and John Colebourn  
The Province  
 
Sunday, August 03, 2003
 

 
A firefighter directs water spray onto a fire in the Westsyde of Kamloops, working to protect homes in the area. This fire was brought under control, but other fires in the region continued to grow in size yesterday.  
 
B.C. is burning.
 
And its residents -- forced to flee homes they may never see again, family possessions that may be lost to wildfires and cherished livestock they cannot carry -- are hurting.
 
A dangerously incendiary mix of dry weather, lightning strikes and human error has created the worst forest-fire crisis in 50 years.
 
In a rare move, faced with the forced evacuation of more than 10,000 people across the Interior, Premier Gordon Campbell has declared a provincial state of emergency.
 
Dozens of houses have been razed by fast-moving wildfires north of Kamloops.
 
The fate of the entire town of Barriere hung in the balance yesterday -- although favourable winds seemed likely to save the town from destruction. The town's sawmill has been destroyed, along with 25 homes.
 
Barriere resident Deanna Andrews, frantically packing up keepsakes and picture albums of her little children yesterday, ran out of time.  
 
Her truck jammed, Andrews thought of only one place left to put her photo albums as flames licked closer to her door.  
 
"I had only a small truck and couldn't put everything in. We first saw the fire creeping over, and then we got the call to get out.
 
"Those photos are in my freezer. Maybe they will survive. I'm really upset."
 
On one lawn, a trio of men traded jokes about how the upright propane cyclinders would be going off like rockets once the fire arrived. As explosions started to sound in the distance, they became quiet.
 
The fire neared, developing a wind of its own, drawing the air down the valley from the north and sending it, super-heated, above residents' heads.
 
The breeze wasn't cool or refreshing, but thick with heat. It pulled the flags tight and drove soot into the eyes.
 
By 3 p.m., most residents had fled -- after enduring a lengthy wait for gas. The local gas bar had capped sales at $20 per customer, enough to flee to Hundred Mile House.
 
By 5 p.m., the huge skidders and logging equipment used to fight the fire had moved out, and ground-fire crews were stationed at the north end of town, awaiting orders.  
 
RCMP officers were spotted leading two horses from town by hand, past a helicopter parked on the highway where a team of operators had stopped to grab a bite of food from support crews.
 
Some Barriere residents were angry as they left.
 
"They can't call that an act of God," said Glenn Hemmons, a retired bus driver who purchased his home in 1992.
 
Hemmons said yesterday that by the time the evacuation notice was given, it was obvious homeowners would lose everything.  
 
"It's absolutely tinder-dry," he said. "We had embers from the fire that was coming toward us falling on our property. I said at that time, luckily, we're insured."
 
Donna Duex was equally angry. She moved to nearby Louis Creek for a life far away from the city. Within minutes yesterday, her paradise collapsed.  
 
"All of a sudden, the power went out," she said. "All of a sudden, I had ashes flying all over me and in my eyes.  
 
"It looked like [the movie] Apocalypse Now. It looked like a war-zone. I thought a nuclear bomb went off."  
 
Glen Escott helped haul a number of horses in the Louis Creek area, where 60 homes were destroyed.
 
Escott, in the horse business himself, said there's a simple code among cowboys when help is needed: "For us, the deal with livestock, this is our livelihood."
 
Down the road in Little Fort, as in Barriere, gas was in short supply as power required to pump it went out.
 
"We're not going anywhere until the sun goes down," said one longtime resident who identified himself as Phil.  
 
"That hill will kill my engine if I try it now. It's better if I wait till well after dark."
 
Beside him, 14 cars sat idle on the side of the road.
 
Meantime, across B.C. last night:
 
- A 53-year-old Barriere man was in serious condition, after contracting burns to his face and upper body. He was airlifted to Vancouver yesterday.
 
"Apparently he was helping a neighbour hose down his house when his clothes caught fire," said Dave Poulin, spokesman for the Interior Health Authority.  
 
- The McLure-Barriere blaze, north of Kamloops, was 66 square kilometres in area. Residents in Barriere, McLure and Louis Creek were evacuated.
 
- The fire in the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh stood at 20 square kilometres.
 
- A new fire near Armstrong forced 1,000 to flee their homes in the Okanagan Valley.
 
- The Chilko Lake wildfire in the Chilcotin had grown to 15 square kilometres, burning away from the community of Alexis Creek.
 
- The fire burning near Armstrong and Falkland has been classified "very aggressive by fire officials.
 
Sun Peaks Resort, 25 kilometres northeast of Kamloops, has been put on evacuation notice.  
 
The fire was shifting rapidly last night. Alerts were also issued for Vinsulla, Knouff Lake, Sullivan Lake, Lyons Lake, Orchard Lake and Huff Lake, north of Kamloops.  
 
And officials say it may take two days for B.C. Hydro crews to restore electricity to 7,500 homes, after fire caused power outages.
 
(With files from Darin Howard, CP)
 
FIRE FACTS:  
 
Where things stand:
 
There are 353 fires raging in B.C., half of them caused by lightning strikes, half by people.
 
More than 10,000 firefighters from across B.C. are battling three of the most dangerous fires. Their numbers have been supplemented by teams from as far away as New Brunswick.
 
This year, a total of 15,000 hectares burned or destroyed in B.C. A burned-out section can fully recover within five to 10 years, depending on the forest species and whether it's fully destroyed or burned in patches.
 
The danger rating for the Thompson/Nicola region remains extreme, as for most of the B.C. Interior -- the worst fire conditions in 50 years.
 
In B.C., 3,200 loggers are out of work due to fires. Two sawmills in the Okanagan have been destroyed. The fires in Midwinter Lake have burned over oil and gas wellheads, but they are buried in the ground and have not been damaged.
 
A 30-kilometre stretch of Highway 97 has been closed from Falkland northwest to Westside Road. Highway 5, the Yellowhead from Kamloops to Tete Jaune remains closed, as does a section of Highway 24 from Little Fort to 93-Mile.
 
Where they're heading:
 
No rain is expected. Winds picked up yesterday to more than 30 kilometres per hour, meaning fires can suddenly gust, surprising fire fighters. The forecast for tomorrow through Wednesday is for sun.
 
There is a ban on campfires in the Kamloops area. People are asked not to set off fireworks this weekend and to take care with their cigarettes.
 
More lightning strikes are expected today. The firefighters' rule of thumb is that there is one fire for every six lightning strikes.
 
The Greater Vancouver Regional District has banned campfires at all its 25 regional parks. Fires are also prohibited at all provincial parks and protected areas in the Lower Mainland.
 
Who to call:
 
To report a wildfire, call toll-free 1-800-663-5555, or cellular *5555. The Provincial Emergency Program emergency information line is 1-800-311-7044.
 
Information on evacuees is available at 1-888-350-6070. The Red Cross information line on evacuees is 1-888-350-6070.
 
The evacuation reception areas are in 100 Mile House, at The Lodge, 170 Highway 97 North; in Kamloops, at the Sport Mart Place at 300 Lorne St.; and in Vernon, at the O'Keeffe Ranch, 9380 Highway 97. They are providing lodging, food and clothing to 1,900 people out of the total of 10,000 evacuated so far.
 
CANWEST GLOBAL FIRE AID
 
HOW TO HELP
 
When tragedy strikes, British Columbians can be counted on to rally.
 
So with wildfires engulfing more and more of B.C., CanWest Global yesterday launched FireAid -- a program to get emergency supplies to the Interior.
 
In co-operation with London Drugs and Telus, CanWest is calling on provincial residents to help the more than 10,000 families who have been forced to flee.
 
"All of us support this community and want to do anything we can to help out," said Dennis Skulsky, the Pacific Newspaper Group's publisher. "The people of B.C. are very generous, so it was our idea to just spread the word."
 
A Friday night newscast in which families were scrambling to gather mementoes before being evacuated inspired the idea, Skulsky says. It wasn't long before Telus and London Drugs offered to help.
 
The three companies are organizing collection and distribution of blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, bottled water and clothing. Items can be dropped at any London Drugs store in B.C., at the BCTV Global newsroom in Burnaby or at The Province and Vancouver Sun printing plant at 12091 88th Avenue in Surrey.
 
London Drugs' tractor-trailer units will deliver supplies to provincial emergency shelters deemed most in need.
 
Copyright 2003 The Province
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #4 on: Aug 3rd, 2003, 8:12pm »
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We've been hearing all about all the fires (both in BC and at home) here in Alberta...our thoughts and prayers are with you all!   The sad part is how some of these started...one for sure was a discarded cigarette and the one near Jasper was a planned burn gone very very wrong.
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #5 on: Aug 3rd, 2003, 11:40pm »
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red...nod...they said on the news last night or the night before that 3/4 of the fires started in bc were by humans...sad... Undecided
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #6 on: Aug 3rd, 2003, 11:59pm »
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I did hear that the ones in the south should be under control soon...keeping my fingers crossed!
 
This is the fourth big thing thats hit our poor country this year - I do hope it ends soon!  I really feel bad for everyone here who makes their living off the tourist industry - and hope that soon those tourists will return.
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #7 on: Aug 4th, 2003, 11:19am »
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Been there - done that too, Rhune - in northern CA but especially in southern CA.
 
My prayers to all who are fighting these monstrous fires - and to those who have so much - and to the hapless innocent victims of human idiocy - the wildlife.  
 
Because the loss of trees and ground cover - come the next series of rains, there may be much flooding and landslides.  What a vicious circle......
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #8 on: Aug 4th, 2003, 2:43pm »
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http://www.canada.com/vancouver/story.asp?id=ACEBA80C-547D-4763-8304-23F A1A745E75
 
Flames threaten historic park lodge
Tokumm Creek wildfire destroys backcountry hut
   
Cathy Ellis  
For The Calgary Herald  
 
 
Monday, August 04, 2003
 
 
Raging Blaze Lights Up Park Sky: The forest near the Kootenay Park Lodge is engulfed in flames as a large fire marches toward the historic site Sunday evening. The lodge was given a one-hour evacuation notice late Sunday afternoon.  
 
The historic and treasured Kootenay Park Lodge was prepared for evacuation late Sunday, as an out-of-control fire in Kootenay National Park moved dangerously close.
 
Another wildfire near Tokumm Creek has destroyed Fay Hut, the first backcountry hut built and operated by the Alpine Club of Canada.
 
Paul Holscher, owner and general manager of Kootenay Park Lodge, said Parks Canada gave him one-hour evacuation notice shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday.
 
Parks Canada also closed Highway 93 South between Castle Mountain and Radium Hot Springs to all public traffic at about the same time.
 
"We're just trying to make sure all the people here are safe, and we're hosing down the building right now hoping to save it," said Holscher.
 
"We're on high alert and we're getting our equipment to protect the property, but I don't know what will happen," he said.
 
"The fire is still a safe distance, but the winds are making this very unpredictable."
 
The out-of-control blaze at the Verendrye Creek area was sparked by lightning as a major storm thundered over the park Thursday.
 
Amenities at Kootenay Park Lodge, about a 45-minute drive from Banff, include a historic lodge, 10 log cabins and a new visitor information centre.
 
This is the second time in as many years that the historic lodge, built by Canadian Pacific Railway in 1923 as a wilderness retreat to attract tourists from around the world, has been in the line of fire.  
 
The cabins were added in 1930.
 
In August 2001, the Mount Shanks fire grew from 600 hectares to 2,400 hectares in just 21/2 hours, ripping six kilometres up the valley and forcing the evacuation of the lodge.
 
Campers at Marble Canyon Campground were also evacuated Sunday morning, where park crews are battling another out-of-control fire in the Tokumm Creek region.
 
That fire destroyed the recently renovated Fay Hut, which is a popular overnight wilderness hut for skiers and mountaineers.
 
Parks Canada spokeswoman Shelley Humphries said crews are trying to back-burn, to contain the fire at Tokumm Creek.
 
Most trails and day-use areas are closed in Kootenay National Park, with the exception of areas at the southern-most end of the park, south of Settler's Road.
 
Humphries said the closures are simply a precaution.
 
"In the event of a fire making a break, we need the helicopters to be fighting fires, not rescuing people," she said.
 
Parks Canada has a major firebase at Kootenay Crossing, with about 80 firefighters and several helicopters battling blazes in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay.
 
Parks Canada is also keeping a close eye on a lightning-sparked fire in the Magnesite Creek area in B.C., which is more than 1,000 hectares in size.  
 
Areas on the western edge of Yoho National Park are closed, where a fire is about five kilometres from the park boundary.
 
Cathy Ellis is a reporter for the Rocky Mountain Outlook
 
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #9 on: Aug 4th, 2003, 2:45pm »
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http://www.canada.com/vancouver/story.asp?id=79210B54-B448-42D8-AB9A-546 529F96C0B
 
More bad news for B.C. firefighters
 
Monday, August 04, 2003
 
KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) -- Firefighters trying to contain a series of blazes ravaging southern British Columbia got more bad news from forecasters Monday, continued unseasonably hot, dry weather.  
 
Temperatures in the Kamloops area were expected to reach 30 degrees again Monday, with winds of 20 kilometres an hour. But it could get as hot as 34 degrees later in the week, according to Environment Canada.  
 
Besides the fires themselves, the parched conditions are the main enemy for the hundreds of firefighters battling three major fires around Kamloops that have burned more than 100 square kilometres of tinder-dry forest and grassland.  
 
More than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes in small towns north of Kamloops, as well as the suburb of Rayleigh just north of this city of 77,000, and around Falkand, about 100 kilometres southeast in the Okanagan.  
 
Thermal images revealed Sunday that the fires were continuing to grow despite constant aerial bombing with fire retardant by a fleet of 37 aircraft and relentless attack by ground-based firefighters.  
 
The army fighting the blazes is getting support from across Canada, including a contingent of soldiers from Edmonton.  
 
The Vancouver Fire Department said Monday it had agreed to send a fire engine and crew to the Kamloops area, while two volunteer fire crews from suburban Maple Ridge were also heading to the B.C. Interior.  
 
About 1,800 firefighters were battling more than 350 blazes across the province. The largest, the 150-square-kilometre Chilko fire in north-central British Columbia does not threaten any major communities.  
 
Estimates Sunday put the McLure-Barriere fire, about 50 kilometres north of Kamloops, at about 84 square kilometres, an increase of 30 per cent from Saturday.  
 
The Strawberry Hill fire, which threatens the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh, grew to about 34 square kilometres from 20 square kilometres.  
 
And the Cedar Hill blaze, southeast of Kamloops near Falkland, was 12 kilometres away from Armstrong, a community on evacuation alert, and is about 8.4 square kilometres in size.  
 
Some residents on the west side of the North Thompson River near McLure and at Little Fort, north of Barriere, were allowed to return home Sunday but told to stay on alert to flee again if conditions changed.  
 
In southwestern Alberta, clouds and light showers Sunday helped crews working to contain an out-of-control fire in the Crowsnest Pass region near the B.C. border. Monday dawned with overcast skies and cooler temperatures.  
 
But almost 2,000 people from the towns of Hillcrest and Blairmore remained out of their homes as the Lost Creek fire continued to threaten the mountain communities.  
 
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, who declared a state of emergency around Kamloops on Friday and extended it to the whole province Saturday, was being briefed regularly by telephone. An aide said Sunday the premier would visit the Kamloops region this week.  
 
Campbell spoke to Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Sunday about federal disaster aide but specific help would wait until detailed estimates of the impact of the fires could be prepared.  
 
A spokesman for Defence Minister John McCallum said Sunday aide would be considered under Ottawa's disaster financial-assistance program.
 
 
RCMP, reinforced by Mounties from the Vancouver area and elsewhere, were patrolling the evacuated areas and manning checkpoints on many closed roads. Residents who had been returning to check on their homes were being turned back, police said.  
 
Copyright 2003 Canadian Press
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #10 on: Aug 4th, 2003, 2:52pm »
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this is all just really sad as bc (and this is not just because i live here  Roll Eyes though one muight think this is blind self promotion  Wink ) is one of the most beautiful places in the world with its' wildlife, trees, trees and more trees (including rainforest area and some of the oldest trees in the world in carmanah), glaciers, the pacific ocean, hot springs, lakes, rivers, salmon, etc.  it saddens me when the fires are brought on by my fellow british columbians or tourists throwing  ciggie out the window or out in the bush or leaving a campfire (ala s6) without thought.  sad.  
 
now, there are fires going here which are wild and we have seen plenty of these but its' the humanmade ones that bother me the most.   Undecided
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #11 on: Aug 4th, 2003, 4:12pm »
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Cry
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #12 on: Aug 5th, 2003, 7:10pm »
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apparently the american government has pledged their support to assist us.  our premier has said that when we need it, we will gladly take up the offer.
 
Campbell flies in, but no promises yet
More B.C. residents displaced by wildfires told they can go home  
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
 

 
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, who flew to Kamloops to view the devastation Tuesday morning, says no aid package will be announced until the damage is assessed. 'We're going to do everything we can to get people through this.' (Global BC)  
   
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell looked shocked and amazed Tuesday as he saw for the first time some of the fire-blasted portions of his province from the air.  
 
Campbell, on a one-day visit to southern British Columbia, flew through smoke-filled skies in a helicopter to look at the effects of one aggressive wildfire, started last Wednesday apparently by a discarded cigarette. It raced quickly north from the town of McLure, through Louis Creek and Barriere, forcing thousands from their homes.  
 
Campbell expressed amazement at the extent of the damage and the speed of the fire's advance. He peppered officials with questions about firefighting techniques.  
 
"As I flew over Barriere there were two things that struck me," he said after touching down.  
 
"One was how much of Barriere's still there, so that's hopeful for lots of people, but also how complete the devastation is for parts of the area as well."  
 
Louis Creek, just south of Barriere, looked almost completely destroyed. The forested landscape was blackened except for occasional solitary trees, miraculously untouched.  
 
Campbell's chopper landed at a fire-fighting camp in time to greet arriving Canadian soldiers, the first of more than 100 brought in from Edmonton to reinforce about 1,000 firefighters in the region. Campbell shook their hands and thanked them for coming.  
 
He also praised the professionalism of B.C. firefighters.  
 
"We've been very fortunate so far that we haven't lost anybody," he said. "There's been no fatalities. That's really amazing when you see the extent of the fires and you see how rapidly they've grown."
 
Those fire crews were apparently beginning to turn the tide in their fight against the three wildfires threatening communities around Kamloops.  
 
"Last night there was minimal fire behaviour and crews made good progress," fire information officer Kevin Matuga told a morning news conference.  
 
But he said visibility remained a problem for firefighters and aircraft attacking the blazes, which have burned almost 160 square kilometres.  
 
Almost half the estimated 2,000 firefighters at work in the province were engaged in battling these fires.  
 
The news was less encouraging from the Crowsnest Pass region of southwestern Alberta, where damp weather gave way to rising temperatures Tuesday.  
 
Firefighters there are fighting a massive fire threatening the mountain towns of Blairmore and Hillcrest, where almost 2,000 people have been forced from their homes by the 180-square-kilometre Lost Creek fire.  
 
Back in British Columbia, Matuga said the Strawberry Hill fire just north of Kamloops, which had grown to 42 from 37 square kilometres, was 90 per cent contained but there was still the possibility of spot fires outside the fire lines.  
 
About 4,000 residents of Rayleigh and Heffley Creek, just north of Kamloops, threatened by that fire were allowed to return home Monday but told to remain on evacuation alert.  
 
There were conflicting figures given for the number of people still under evacuation order.  
 
Officials in Kamloops said earlier 3,500 people remained out of their homes. But Cathi Piazza, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Forest Service, said 7,200 still had not returned home.  
 
No explanation was given for the discrepancy but Piazza said estimates were based on population figures and officials had no indication how many people were actually there at the time.  
 
At the peak on Sunday, more than 10,000 people had fled their homes from fires near Falkland, Rayleigh, McLure and Barriere.  
 
Matuga said the Cedar Hills fire near Falkland, in the Okanagan Valley southeast of Kamloops, was 60 per cent contained, allowing for the return of 280 residents Monday night. Its size was estimated at about 15.6 square kilometres.  
 
"We are expecting light winds today," said Matuga. "With that forecast we are expecting the fire behaviour to be minimal today.  
 
"However the communities that are in the evacuation zones remain on that notice because of the potential fire behaviour."  
 
The McLure-Barriere blaze, last estimated at about 100 square kilometres, destroyed dozens of homes and several businesses, including a sawmill at Louis Creek, since it began Wednesday.  
 
Campbell declared a state of emergency for the region Friday. He extended it Saturday to cover all of British Columbia as the province dealt with more than 300 fires.  
 
Campbell spoke with Prime Minister Jean Chretien on the weekend about getting federal disaster aid.  
 
"We've notified Ottawa that we think we will be coming to them for some assistance," he said.  
 
"We've also been very clear with them we can't even start to begin to estimate that's on the ground until we can actually get in and assess that."  
 
It's costing between $2.5 million and $3 million a day to fight the fires in the province, Campbell said.  
 
Damage-assessment teams had begun going into the burned-out areas Monday, said emergency official Rod Salem. But authorities would not release information about the damage, nor allow media images, until individual property owners were told their homes were still standing to avoid them learning about it from news reports, he said.  
 
"My function and the provincial emergency operations centre function is the protection of these people, as well as their emotional protection, not just their safety," said Salem, regional director for the Provincial Emergency Program.  
 
Counsellors will be on hand to help people told they've lost their homes, as well specialists on issues such as insurance, financial assistance and debris disposal, said Greg Toma, an emergency official.  
 
However, B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman warned those who lost their homes to the fires but didn't have insurance should not expect a B.C. government handout.  
 
"In the fire that was in Salmon Arm in 1998, the government didn't pay for uninsured homes," said Coleman, who accompanied Campbell on his tour.  
 
"There have been exceptions, I suppose, over the years that I understand but we're not going to really decide what we will do until we have a true assessment of what it is we have on the ground."  
 
Heffley Creek and Rayleigh residents returned to homes overlooking charred forests and mountainsides with the stench of smoke still in their houses.  
 
"It sticks to your clothes," said Joe Veira, adding his first impulse was to water his garden.  
 
While some residents nearer Kamloops and Falkland went home, only a few people from the communities further north got the green light.  
 
People crowded into evacuation centres in Kamloops and elsewhere. Some were given hotel and motel rooms while others camped on cots in school gyms or even in their cars.  
 
Many evacuees expressed frustration about the lack of information about their homes, especially with police restricting access for those anxious to see if their homes are still standing.  
 
"I understand why people are going through that," Campbell said. "But you don't want to start distracting people from taking care of the fires and making sure they are safe.  
 
"So I would say to those people: I understand your concern, I know how you must long to find out what's going on."  
 
There were hints of tension as police had to contend with residents determined to get into evacuated areas to view the damage.  
 
RCMP Cpl. Mike Stewart warned vehicles to slow down at checkpoints so officers could see if they had valid passes or permits on their windows.  
 
"We need to know who is in the various areas, whether they're under evacuation alert or order, so we can assist in accounting for individuals as this very fluid situation changes," he said.  
 
"If you are found in a restricted area without proper permits and identification, you will be removed."  
 
Campbell said the problem is that after three or four days, people believe the situation is better.  
 
"We still haven't managed to contain even 50 per cent of the fires we're dealing with and it's going to be a long-time, long-haul process," he said. "We're doing everything we can."  
 
Neighbouring Alberta was fighting its own battle, with almost 2,000 people forced out of Blairmore and Hillcrest in the Crowsnest Pass area near the southern B.C. border.  
 
British Columbia and Alberta are the worst hit during the summer's scorching fire season that has left thousands without a home.  
 
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and cabinet ministers Mike Cardinal and Dave Coutts toured the Crowsnest Pass area Monday.  
 
Meanwhile, fire crews from B.C. were joining the effort to battle a blaze in neighbouring Washington state, just south of Keremeos, B.C.  
 
The Farewell Creek fire, which has been burning since June 29, has been threatening to cross into Canada.  
 
Despite a preoccupation with the Kamloops-area fires, the province's biggest blaze is still the 200-square-kilometre Chilko Lake fire, which officials said is about 20 per cent contained. Residents of nearby small communities such as Scum Lake were on evacuation alert.  
 
Elsewhere, officials said there were about 80 fires burning in Saskatchewan, 22 in Ontario and seven in Quebec.  
 
A once-mighty fire near Thompson, Man., however, was simply smouldering as cool, wet weather helped contain the blaze. There were 14 fires in the province.  
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #13 on: Aug 5th, 2003, 7:12pm »
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Fire evacuees confront authorities
Tempers flare as residents and ranchers displaced by fires worry about property damage
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
 
CREDIT: Kamloops Daily News/ Robert Koopmans  
   

 
Aug. 1, 2003 - Darcy Feller ignored an evacuation order, choosing to stay and fight to save his house at Barriere's South end in B.C.  
 
SQUAM VALLEY, B.C. (CP) -- Firefighting isn't the only kind of battle raging at nearby forest fires.  
 
Many homeowners anxious to find out if their houses have been destroyed are trying to run police barricades and ranchers desperate to save their land from the inferno are fighting with police and provincial forestry officials.  
 
As the wildfire encroaches on this area 60 kilometres north of Kamloops, many local loggers and ranchers who have spent days and nights building firewalls and soaking down homes are openly confronting authorities.  
 
"They are trying to stop people from working, they are trying to kick us out," said acreage owner Steve Mosdell after arguing with a forestry official about whether he had permission to fight the fire heading towards his land.  
 
"We've got a bunch of new, green people coming in here who are confused because they are not on top of the fire and they are kicking people out."  
 
Pat Hayes, a branch director handling the McClure-Barriere fire for B.C. Forest Service, had challenged Mosdell about having permission to fight the blaze. He said some locals are upset because the fire is lurking on their doorstep.  
 
"There's an evacuation order and police are moving them out," he said. "This, for us, is a massive challenge and we are just trying to do our work."  
 
Hugh Fraser, a rancher whose family has been in this valley for decades, berated an RCMP officer stationed at a barricade just metres from his land, saying he's fed up with how police are treating locals.  
 
"We're not just a bunch of stupid fools who don't know what the hell we're doing," Fraser told the officer, adding residents aren't being treated with respect by police.  
 
The officer replied: "You're the guy who tried to run me over yesterday."  
 
Fraser denied taking a run at the officer, stating the officer was metres away from his truck when he sped by.  
 
RCMP Cpl. Mike Stewart said Fraser isn't the only one who didn't stop at a police barricade, set up in restricted areas where wildfires are burning and locals have been ordered to evacuate.  
 
"We did hear of problems of people not slowing down at checkpoints," he said.  
 
RCMP officials have asked homeowners to respect barricades, warning those who don't will be removed from the area or arrested.  
 
During the last two days, on the two-way radio used by firefighters and heavy equipment operators, a worker sometimes blurts out: "Another one has ran the barricade."  
 
Some of the 7,200 residents who remain evacuated from their homes -- many since Thursday -- are extremely frustrated and anxious because they don't know if their homes are still standing.  
 
Brenda Nelson said the waiting was driving her crazy, so on Monday she used "extreme measures," to somehow pass police blockades and see firsthand if her acreage about 50 kilometres north of Kamloops was ravaged by fire.  
 
"I just had to see if my house was still standing, and thank God it is," she said.  
 
"I was going crazy not knowing, thinking the worst had happened, and I just had to see for myself."  
 
Nelson said many people are trying to get by police barricades to see if their homes still exist. Some make it, others don't, she said.  
 
B.C. Gordon Campbell said Tuesday he understands how frustrating it must be for residents to not know about the homes they were forced out by the wildfires.  
 
"I understand, boy I understand, why people are going through that," he told reporters before touring the area in a helicopter.  
 
"So I would say to those people, 'I understand your concern, I know how you must long to find out what's taken place at your home. But we have the public safety interest and we have to put that first.'"
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #14 on: Aug 5th, 2003, 7:13pm »
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Firefighters from across Canada help peers in B.C. and Alberta blazes
   
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
 
VANCOUVER (CP) -- A national agency's massive co-ordination effort to send firefighters and aircraft to battle B.C. and Alberta blazes is working with help from rainy weather in Ontario.  
 
The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre in Winnipeg serves as an inter-provincial resource broker for the transfer of personnel, water bombers and equipment such as power pumps during the wildfire season.  
 
Spokesman Dave Bokovay said American firefighters are busy waging war against forest fires in the midwest and wouldn't be able to help their northern neighbours, including British Columbia.  
 
"They've got nothing to lend," Bokovay said.  
 
While Canada will also not be able to lend a hand to the U.S. effort, it's faring well so far with the number of firefighters who are coming to the aid of their colleagues in other provinces.  
 
"The co-operation across the country is pretty impressive to see," he said. "People from Nova Scotia (are) in Alberta and people from New Brunswick are in B.C. They've come all the way across the country.  
 
"It's really encouraging to see that it's not politically motivated or regionally based, that firefighters are firefighters and they feel for their peers across the country.  
 
"Every agency's been in the situation that B.C. is in at one time or another and they're doing their best to help out."  
 
British Columbia is currently in the throes of its worst wildfire season in 50 years.  
 
Late last week, about 10,000 people in south-central B.C. around Kamloops were forced to flee their homes with whatever belongings they could grab as flames from three fast-moving wildfires came perilously close.  
 
About 4,000 residents of Rayleigh and Heffley Creek, near Kamloops, spent several nights in emergency centres before being allowed to return home Tuesday. They remained on evacuation alert.  
 
Another 3,500 British Columbians were still in limbo, many wondering if their homes are still standing.  
 
Meanwhile, many of the 2,000 firefighters who have been battling three major blazes and over 300 smaller fires in British Columbia for almost 14 days straight are exhausted and need to be replaced this week.  
 
"We're looking at some plans to make sure that we have people to take over from these folks that have been on the line now for almost two weeks," Bokovay said.  
 
About 470 firefighters from other provinces -- mostly Ontario -- are currently working in British Columbia. They're joined by 113 soldiers from Edmonton.  
 
Ontario reported 22 fires, mostly in relatively unpopulated northern parts of the province.  
 
British Columbia and Alberta, where tinder-dry forests are being hit hardest by fires caused by lightning strikes and careless people, have also borrowed 19 aircraft from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and the Yukon.  
 
Unlike Ontario, both B.C. and Alberta won't be getting major rainfall soon to lend firefighters a helping hand, said Brian Robilliard, weather forecaster for Environment Canada's Pacific Weather Centre.  
 
While cooler temperatures and clouds were forecast for later Tuesday, the ``double-edge sword'' is that thunder storms with lightning could also develop, along with gusty winds that could fan the flames, Robilliard said.  
 
The thunder storms will move into Washington state by Wednesday via southern British Columbia, into the Kootenays and the Okanagan, but dodge Kamloops, where most of the fire activity is centred.  
 
Alberta's weather forecast is similar, but with a bit of moisture in the extreme southern part of the province where thunderstorms are forecast for Wednesday.  
 
"Even in the midterm, it's not looking all that great," Robilliard said of southwestern Alberta, where fires have driven 2,000 people from their homes.  
 
"What (B.C. and Alberta) want is rain and they're not going to get that in the foreseeable future anyway."
 
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