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   British Columbia state of emergency fires
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #15 on: Aug 5th, 2003, 8:52pm »
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Apparantly we're getting rain on this side of the Rockies tonight... really wish I could send it back your way!!!
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #16 on: Aug 13th, 2003, 2:49pm »
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well, while we still have over 400 fires burning, one of the largest is contained.  the barriere/maclure fire is no longer on the move.  the bad news ~ it was started by a guy working on his property who put out his ciggie in over a bed of dry pine needles!  he is also a volunteer fire fighter!  crazy.  while i feel for him, what was he thinking!  this fire is already in the 8.4 million dollar damage range nevermind the 2.4 million a day just to fight fires in bc!  i will give it to him for running for help and to evacuate.  his lawyers now fear that the insurance companies may come after him for damages.
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #17 on: Aug 13th, 2003, 3:12pm »
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Isn't the USA helping put down the fires?
 
This continues to be horrendous.  I will pray for rain - at least enough to help put out the fires.  Otherwise, there are going to be mudslides all over the place.  :crying:
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #18 on: Aug 16th, 2003, 8:38am »
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Red or K-A - can you update us on the status of these fires?
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #19 on: Aug 16th, 2003, 10:59am »
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With the fire here in Edmonton, and the blackotu out east, the fires in the rockies have been relegated to the back pages of the newpapers...I have heard that the Bariere fire has started up again, but otherwise it's the same as has been reported before...calgary did have a cloud of smoke over it yesterday and they were advising people to stay indoors...in Edmoton there was also a haze of smoke from the forest fires and we're a good 4 hours east of there...I'll write more later as I find out.
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #20 on: Aug 17th, 2003, 1:56am »
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http://www.canada.com/national/features/fires/story.html?id=B22A6E74-3F0 6-437F-B1FC-8A6F7AD22ECE
 
Hundreds forced to flee
   
Matthew Ramsey  
Vancouver Sun  
 
Saturday, August 16, 2003
   
Five hundred people were ordered from their homes Friday as firefighters battling the 20,000-hectare McLure wildfire north of Kamloops warned that an expected wind shift could sweep flames into populated areas.
 
The evacuation orders were issued late Friday afternoon, B.C. Forest Service fire information officer Steve Bachop said.
 
Bachop said forecasts indicate that winds blowing from the southeast may make a 180-degree turn and fan flames in a southeasterly direction starting today.
 
If the wind shift happens, the fire would burn across areas already scorched and could spread to untouched areas and start consuming even more of the tinder-dry forest in and around the North Thompson River valley.  
 
"If that happens, there's the potential for this [fire] to rumble around for quite some time," Bachop said
 
He said winds high on the valley slopes were expected to gust up to speeds of 25-30 km/hour. With speeds that high, the risk of the fire leaping into the treetops, or crowning, was substantial, Bachop said.
 
More than 800 firefighters are battling the blaze, along with 118 pieces of heavy equipment and more than a dozen helicopters. The fire was between 60 and 65 per cent contained Friday night.
 
Forest firefighters are not expecting any help from the weather, Bachop added.
 
"The fire's going to have significant potential until we see a change in the weather," he said Friday night, noting that rainfall is not in the forecast.  
 
Bachop declined to speculate about whether the town of Barriere, where 3,500 residents were forced to flee their homes in the face of flames earlier this month, may have to be re-evacuated. At its peak, the McLure fire forced about 4,500 residents from their homes in Barriere, McLure, Louis Creek and surrounding areas. Barriere residents were allowed to return home earlier this week.
 
The town of Louis Creek was almost totally levelled by the fire, which caused more than $8 million in property damage and left hundreds homeless.  
 
A total of 861 fires were burning across B.C. as of 7 p.m. Friday. About 109,000 hectares of forest land has been consumed by fire since April 1.
 
The B.C. government extended its provincial state of emergency for an additional two weeks Thursday to marshall resources to fight the fires.
 
If the wind shift happens, the fire would burn across areas already scorched and could spread to untouched areas in the North Thompson River valley.  
 
"If that happens, there's the potential for this [fire] to rumble around for quite some time," Bachop said
 
He said winds high on the valley slopes were expected to gust up to speeds of 25-30 km/hour. With speeds that high, the risk of the fire leaping into the treetops, or crowning, was substantial, Bachop said.
 
More than 800 firefighters are battling the blaze. The fire was between 60 and 65 per cent contained Friday night.
 
Bachop declined to speculate about whether the town of Barriere, where 3,500 residents were forced to flee their homes earlier this month, may be re-evacuated.  
 
At its peak, the McLure fire forced about 4,500 residents from their homes in Barriere, McLure and Louis Creek. Barriere residents returned home earlier this week.
 
Louis Creek was nearly levelled by the fire, which caused more than $8 million in property damage and left hundreds homeless.
 
Copyright  2003 Vancouver Sun
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #21 on: Aug 17th, 2003, 1:58am »
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http://www.canada.com/national/features/fires/story.html?id=887B90B7-E74 7-4C74-9B78-01A6E59FFAF5
 
Flames close in on Blairmore
New fireguard, pipeline hold blaze at bay
   
Sherri Zickefoose  
Calgary Herald  
 
Saturday, August 16, 2003
 
CREDIT: Colleen Kidd, Calgary Herald  
   
A water bomber drops a load Friday on a burning ridge of Turtle Mountain as hot spots in the Lost Creek fire flare up.  
 
A 30-metre fireguard and a pipeline break are all that stand between the Lost Creek wildfire and the community of Blairmore.
 
The out-of-control fire, which began July 23, has started burning inside the municipal boundary, and is slowly moving toward town.
 
Fire crews with bulldozers worked through the night Thursday and well into Friday building the latest fireguard, which runs the length of Blairmore and loops behind the local ski hill. There are now 827 firefighters battling the blaze, up from 750 on Thursday.
 
The new guard sits just south of the fire.
 
Thick smoke blanketing the valley Friday hindered Alberta Sustainable Resource Development's air attack. Aerial crews were unable to fly for about four hours Friday morning because of the smoke. Water bombers and helicopters were being used to douse Turtle Mountain's south side.
 
Fire strategists say the hot weather and winds are working against their bid to conquer the 21,000-hectare fire.  
 
The tactic of back burning may get more difficult as the fire advances toward town.
 
The plan to push the fire back up the mountainside and away from neighbourhoods in its path is becoming less likely.
 
"We definitely do not have near the room we had a couple of nights ago," said fire information officer Marv Doran.
 
Now that the fire is creeping onto municipal territory, Crowsnest Pass Mayor John Irwin said more than 100 firefighters and emergency workers are watching and waiting.
 
"It's when and where it hits the pipeline," said Irwin, referring to the TransCanada gas pipeline that runs the four-kilometre length of Blairmore. The pipeline right-of-way has been widened 200 to 400 metres in spots. "That's our last line of defence."
 
Fire crews camped out between Turtle Mountain and the Pass Powderkeg ski hill have moved to Coleman, west of Blairmore. Sprinklers and hoses have also been set up to keep the flames from ripping through the forest and into Blairmore.  
 
The hottest parts of the Lost Creek fire are hard up against the fireguards just two kilometres from town.
 
The 1,100 residents evacuated from the area Monday are no closer to moving back home.
 
Residents in Hillcrest and Blairmore remain on a one-hour evacuation alert.
 
Now out of their homes for six days, Blairmore's homeowners and other residents are weary.  
 
Blairmore residents Johanna and Abe Steer moved to their mountain home two years ago.
 
Now, the wind and fire are ready to take it all away.  
 
"It's been three weeks now. One hour you're in good spirits, the next things are smoking up again," says Abe.
 
Lisa Sygutek, a longtime Crowsnest Pass resident, says watching the fire is agonizing.
 
"The daily stress that everybody is going through is unreal.
 
"You just feel like the mouse caught in the maze, and no one's showing you the exit."
 
szickefoose@theherald.canwest.com
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #22 on: Aug 17th, 2003, 1:59am »
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http://www.canada.com/national/features/fires/story.html?id=091D91D8-C41 7-44B5-A411-9FB172E0BF5B
 
Alberta expands forest closures; B.C. fires grow expand
Weather slows firefighting
   
Sean Myers  
Calgary Herald; with files from The Canadian Press. smyers@theherald.canwest.com  
 
Saturday, August 16, 2003
 
A 1.8-hectare fire briefly shut down a lane of traffic on the Trans-Canada west of Exshaw Friday, but crews were able to douse the flames.
 
And the hot, dry conditions and high gusting winds caused the Alberta government Friday to extend the closure of forest area in southwest Alberta to 347,800 hectares.
 
The closure now extends from Cataract Creek south to the Waterton National Park border, west to the Alberta-B.C. border and as far east as the Porcupine Hills.
 
All public access to the areas is banned.
 
Other fire bans and closures are in force at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.
 
Most facilities and the main campgrounds in Cypress Hills will stay open for now, but many roads and trails, particularly in backcountry, are closed.
 
There is a ban on open fires throughout the municipal district of Cypress, but supervised fires in pits are allowed.
 
Total fire bans have been issued, however, for Writing-on-Stone and Midland Provincial Parks, and Bleriot Ferry Provincial Recreation Area.
 
Public access to the backcountry area south of Milk River in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is restricted.
 
Fires in Banff National Park flared up late Thursday, licking dangerously close to the Trans-Canada Highway.
 
The fires caused intermittent power outages in the resort town.
 
For more detailed information on fire bans visit www.alberta.firebans.com or call 1-866-FYI-FIRE.
 
For information on provincial parks call (780) 427-3582, toll-free at 1-866-427-3582 or visit www.cd.gov.ab.ca/gateway.
 
Gusting winds from a fire burning south of Cranbrook pushed flames close to one of four homes evacuated Thursday.
 
But firefighters managed to keep the 1,700-hectare Plumbob Mountain fire away from its doorstep with a controlled burn that ate up the tinder-dry fuel around the structure.
 
Strong winds have also stirred up the 1,700-hectare Lamb Creek fire west of Moyie Lake and the Kutetl Creek fire in West Arm Provincial Park east of Nelson which now covers 2,200 hectares.
 
Near Kamloops, the 19,200-hectare McLure-Barriere fire was 60 per cent contained.  
 
That fire is the largest of three Kamloops-area blazes that forced more than 10,000 people from their homes.
 
It destroyed the village of Louis Creek, about 50 kilometres north of Kamloops, leaving dozens of people homeless.
 
High winds fanned the Verendrye Creek fire in Kootenay National Park Thursday causing it to grow to 7,000 hectares by Friday.  
 
Crews continue to open Highway 93 through Kootenay daily at 6 a.m., closing the road each afternoon when the thick smoke from the fires begins reducing visibility.
 
British Columbia has recorded 2,044 fires that have devoured 1,090 square kilometres this year.
 
There are currently more than 300 fires burning in southeast B.C.
 
Hot, dry weather caused the fires, left over from a Parks Canada prescribed burn last spring, to flare up again.  
 
As of Friday the Fairholme fire covered 400 hectares, about half the size of the initial prescribed burn, said Kathy Rettie of Parks Canada.
 
Copyright  2003 Calgary Herald
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #23 on: Aug 17th, 2003, 8:00am »
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K-A - thanks so much for that info.  In a way, the fires seem much unchanged - because of the heat that generates the winds which can flare up at any given moment.  Prayers continuing.....
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #24 on: Aug 23rd, 2003, 5:08pm »
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after a few days of trying, i finally got ahold of a friend who lives in kelowna (where i went to college and just an hour away from where i spend the last years of elementary school and all of high school).  while i knew her place is in a relatively safe location (but what is relative when the fire is burning out of control and it is windy today), i was concerned for her parents who live on the outskirts.  as i imagined, they were evacuated early this morning at 2:00am.  
 
in addition to this, i just saw a friend who was to be in kelowna on holiday until tomorrow but they came back early as their relatives were also evacuated and are even more likely to lose their home.  i, myself, lived in kelowna for almost five years and know the area endangered well.
 
please keep the people, wildfire and animals in your thoughts and prayers.  things do not seem to be letting up.
 
http://www.canada.com/national/features/fires/story.html?id=8CAC2904-9DA 3-436B-B118-873F1717A4C3
 
Upward of 203 homes lost as wildfire tears through Kelowna suburbs
 
CAROL HARRINGTON
Canadian Press
 
Saturday, August 23, 2003
 
CREDIT: (CP/Richard Lam)
 

 
The Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire rages above homes in the Mission area of Kelowna early Saturday. (CP/Richard Lam)
 
KELOWNA, B.C. (CP) - An estimated 203 homes have been torched as a relentless wildfire advanced into the southern suburbs of this Okanagan city.  
 
"Last night was probably the roughest night in Kelowna firefighting history I would say," city fire chief Gerry Zimmerman told a media briefing Saturday.  
 
"We got hammered pretty good."  
 
"These losses are staggering," but Zimmerman stressed that the number of homes lost was only preliminary and that the tally is likely to change.  
 
The chief said an aerial survey was being conducted Saturday and that photographs would be posted so that anxious homeowners can determine if their houses had survived the inferno.  
 
Officials said the same dire conditions - tinder-dry and with high winds - were expected to prevail Saturday, raising the odds of further property losses.  
 
Hundreds more residents were rousted from their homes overnight, adding to the 30,000 already evacuated from the path of the fire.  
 
Almost one-third of the population of this picturesque Okanagan city of about 100,000 now has been displaced.  
 
Zimmerman said three firefighters were among those who lost their homes.  
 
"They were in there fighting for other people's (homes) and they lost theirs. So that's tough," said Zimmerman, holding back tears.  
 
"We're not used to losing things. We don't want to lose a shed, let alone a house, and when we start losing houses in this number it has a bad effect on our guys."  
 
The chief said psychologists have been brought in to talk to firefighters who have lost everything or are struggling to cope with the stress of battling the most devastating wildfire in recent B.C. history.  
 
"They were coming off the (fire) line and we had some pretty scared kids," he said. "The senior guys thought they weren't going to get out."  
 
Zimmerman also praised firefighters for saving the homes they could.  
 
"It's not the ones you lost, you had no choice with those. We could have had a thousand people and you wouldn't stop those things but they saved the other (homes) around it," he said. "For every one that burned down they probably saved two."  
 
Evacuees who couldn't take refuge with friends or relatives slept in their vehicles, in churches and in a local hockey arena.  
 
"I was tired enough, I could have slept on my head," said Barry Snider, who along with his wife and two teenage children were evacuated after midnight Saturday.  
 
Sniders left their home as smoke billowed and an orange glow from the fire lit their neighbourhood.  
 
Neil Madsen said he saw tall trees flickering like candles and several houses engulfed in flames when his family was evacuated from their acreage at about 2:15 a.m.  
 
"We normally have a million-dollar view and that view was horrifyingly surreal early this morning," said Madsen, who slept on the bare floor at the Trinity Baptist Church with his wife, Judy, and two young children.  
 
At dusk Friday night, police with bullhorns drove through suburban neighbourhoods, ordering an estimated 20,000 from their homes.  
 
Evacuees were told to report to downtown reception centres, where, only a day earlier, several thousand other Kelowna residents were sent the previous night.  
 
New evacuees, some of them shaking and speechless, huddled outside one of two downtown reception centres.  
 
Kelowna was blanketed with ash, while lightning flashes in clouds of smoke gave the impression of small explosions.  
 
Even from the downtown area, flames could be seen shooting from a sprawling hillside.  
 
"It's havoc," said Larry Friesen, who went to a reception centre with his wife and two teenage sons. "They banged on the door and said, 'You've got to get out."  
 
One weeping woman said she had to leave her dog behind.  
 
"My dog is still in my house," said Amy Marsden, 23. "I tried to get her but they wouldn't let me."  
 
The regional district was pleading with residents Friday night to stay off their telephone lines, as circuits were being overloaded, and emergency workers could access free lines.  
 
"The fire is moving very aggressively," Darron Campbell, a fire information officer, said Friday night. "Crews are doing what they can to put fire controls lines in place to try and stay in front of it but the winds are blowing strong right now."  
 
Winds of up to 80 kilometres an hour were recorded that pushed the fire at a rate of 100 metres a minute.  
 
"That's making things difficult out there," he said.  
 
But no amount of urging was going to persuade Barb Roth to leave her home in the vacant Mission neighbourhood, despite the sight of a house burning several blocks away.  
 
"They threatened to handcuff and drag me out of here," said Roth. "But we're not going to burn here."  
 
As Roth spoke and menacing flames flickered within eyesight, her friend's two children splashed in her backyard pool.  
 
Several firefighters in south Kelowna were reportedly isolated by flames late Friday afternoon and had to be rescued by boat on Okanagan Lake.  
 
The fire, sparked by a lightning strike last Saturday, has grown to more than an estimated 170 square kilometres.  
 
Hundreds of firefighters have flocked to this picturesque city to help.  
 
"We're on holidays," said Gerry Cadwallader, who along with two firefighters from View Royal on Vancouver Island arrived in Kelowna late Friday night with a bush truck that pumps water and foam.  
 
"We figure we'll be here until Thursday or Friday, working 12 hour shifts," he added.  
 
Provincial and federal politicians are visiting the area, many taking aerial tours to see firsthand the destruction caused by 825 fires ravaging the B.C. Interior.  
 
Federal Defence Minister John McCallum touched down at the Kelowna airport, telling reporters he wanted to "express the sympathy, the solidarity of the federal government to the people of British Columbia at this very difficult time."  
 
McCallum rejected criticism that the federal government has paid little attention to the horrific fires gobbling up western Canadian forests and instead paid much attention and resources to the blackout in eastern Canada.  
 
"These things were not in competition," he said.  
 
After getting a bird's eye view of the area Friday, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said he was lost for words to describe the destructive, powerful fires that have so far devoured an area a third of the size of Prince Edward Island in his province.  
 
"I continue to be struck by the size, the magnitude, the scale and I can't find the words to describe it," he said.  
 
"The smoke just goes on and on. And just the scale, I wish I could describe it to people."  
 
Campbell declared a provincial state of emergency Aug. 2.  
 
About 1,000 were evacuated near Chase, 50 kilometres east of Kamloops, and hundreds remain out of their homes from month-old fires north of Kamloops.  
 
Earlier this month, the McLure-Barriere fire incinerated the village of Louis Creek, including dozens of houses and mobile homes, and a sawmill that was the area's major employer.  
Copyright  2003 The Canadian Press
 
 
the fires themselves...
 
Quote:

 
Aug 23, 2003 12:25 PM
The Vaseaux Fire is now estimated to be 1,000 hectares in size.  
 
Resources continue to be deployed to the fire.
 
The fire is currently moving towards the east, away from the valley. Fire behaviour is currently stable on the west side.  
 
Aug 23, 2003 12:10 PM
The Venables Valley Fire is estimated to be 6,700 hectares in size and 25% contained.  
 
There are 217 personnel, 46 pieces of heavy equipment and 4 helicopters working on the fire.
 
Crews are continuing to establish new control lines and reinforce and patrol existing ones.
 
The fire displayed active behaviour yesterday on the north end, however it did not breach control lines.  
 
 
Aug 23, 2003 11:54 AM
The Okanagan Mountain Park fire is now estimated to be 19,000 hectares in size.  
 
There are 250 personnel, 109 pieces of heavy equipment, and 10 helicopters currently working on the fire. Heavy smoke in the area is posing a challenge for aerial fire suppression efforts.
 
Fueled by winds with gusts up to 70 km/h, the fire displayed aggressive behaviour yesterday afternoon. As a result, the fire was driven in a northeast direction.
 
Crews and equipment will be working to secure control lines at the southern end of the fire today. The south side is stable at this time.
 
Forest Service fire fighters, military personnel, and Fire Department fire fighters continue to work on the fire and conduct structure protection.  
 
Aug 23, 2003 11:43 AM
The McGillivray/Niskonlith Lake Fire is estimated to be 7,638 hectares in size, and 30% contained.  
 
 
 
There are 285 personnel, 141 pieces of heavy equipment, and 10 helicopters currently working on the fire. Waterbombers and airtankers are being used when needed.
 
The fire displayed moderate behaviour yesterday morning. Strong winds in the afternoon caused aggressive fire beahvior on the north end of the fire yesterday afternoon. As a result, the fire did spread to the north.
 
Crews continue to make progress on the south end of the fire.
 
Aug 23, 2003 11:42 AM
The McLure Fire is estimated to be 25,587 hectares in size and 60% contained.  
 
Crews are continuing to building guard lines and patrol existing ones. Mop up operations are also in progress.
 
Structure protection remains a top priority.  
 
Aug 22, 2003 12:44 PM
Map of Hells Gate Evac. Alert Area- Aug 21/03  
PARKSVILLE ? Fire activity has increased in the Coastal Fire Centre resulting in two new fires of note.  
 
An 80-hectare fire south of Boston Bar, near Hells Gate started yesterday afternoon as the result of a semi-truck collision on Highway 1. The fire is burning on steep terrain and is challenging fire fighting resources. Thirty-five fire fighters and 5 helicopters are working to contain the blaze.  
 
Highway 1 currently is open but there are some lane closures until further notice. An Incident Management Team and mobile tactical command unit are on-site. Evacuation alerts have been issued to North Bend, Boston Bar, Spuzzum and Alexandra Bridge Park.
 
Twenty kilometres northeast of Sechelt, near Chapman Lake, a 1.5-hectare wildfire is visible from many areas on the Sunshine Coast and eastern Vancouver Island. Nine fire fighters, 2 helicopters and a Protection Officer are working the fire. No communities or structures are at risk. The fire appears to be the result of a hold over lightning fire that occurred late last week.
 
Continuing warm, dry conditions have pushed the fire danger rating to extreme in the southern half of Vancouver Island and from the lower mainland east to Manning Park. The public is reminded that a backcountry travel advisory has been issued for the southern coastal region and a campfire ban remains in place until further notice.  
 
To date there have been 504 incidents resulting in 210 fires in the Coastal Fire Centre. A total of 184 hectares have been burned.
 
For more information on fires currently burning around the province visit the Wildfire News at www.for.gov.bc.ca/protect.  
 
Aug 19, 2003 11:42 AM
WILLIAMS LAKE ? Fire fighters worked overnight, burning off areas of the Bonaparte Lake fire, which is 100 per cent contained.  
 
The perimeter of the fire has been mapped using global positioning system technology; the total size of the fire including the fuels burned off is 1,092 hectares.  
 
An estimated 75-hectare fire on the south face of Bald Mountain is approximately 90 per cent contained.  
 
Air tankers were dispatched yesterday afternoon to a two-hectare wildfire northwest of Sheridan Lake. Fire retardant drops were successful, and the lightning caused fire is contained. Fifteen fire fighters, two bulldozers and two water tenders continue to mop up.  
 
A twenty-hectare, lightning caused fire on the North Arm of Quesnel Lake near Watt Creek continues to be kept under observation.  
 
Due to high and extreme fire danger ratings and tinder dry conditions in the Cariboo Fire Centre, Forest Service officials in conjunction with B.C. Parks have issued a campfire and open burning ban effective until further notice. Air and ground patrols are taking place daily to enforce these restrictions.
 
A person must not light, fuel, or make use of an open fire. This includes backyard burning, slash burns and burn barrels. The purpose of this prohibition is to limit the risk of forest fire starts.  
 
The use of stoves that use liquid, gaseous fuel or briquettes is permitted. Campfires are permitted in approved campsite fire pits in supervised commercial campgrounds. Campfires are banned in B.C. Provincial Parks within the Cariboo Region. Up to date information is available on the B.C. Parks Web Site http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/.
 
The Cariboo Fire Centre covers from Loon Lake in the South to just north of the Cottonwood River bridge north of Quesnel. In the east to Wells Grey Park and to Tweedsmuir Park in the west.  
 
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #25 on: Aug 23rd, 2003, 5:16pm »
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Chretien breaks off from Northern trip to tour B.C. disaster area
 
LOUISE ELLIOTT
Canadian Press
 
Saturday, August 23, 2003
 
CREDIT: (CP/Jonathan Hayward)
 
Prime Minister Jean Chretien looks over at the translator during a ceremony for the creation of Ukkusiksalik National Park in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Saturday. (CP/Jonathan Hayward)
 
IQALUIT (CP) - Prime Minister Jean Chretien interrupted his tour of the Eastern Arctic to visit the fire-scarred Okanagan region of British Columbia on Sunday.  
 
About 30,000 people have been driven from their homes in the southern suburbs of Kelowna in the face of a relentless blaze.  
 
Scores of fires have consumed about five times the amount of water usually spent to control such incidents in the province each summer, while destroying vast swaths of forest and some towns.  
 
"He's going to be on the ground and see it for himself," said Steven Hogue, spokesman for the prime minister.  
 
Chretien cancelled a planned visit to Cape Dorset on the southwestern tip of Baffin Island to return home before heading to British Columbia.  
 
He will make the unscheduled trip on the heels of criticism that he was almost invisible during Ontario's province-wide power outage last week.  
 
During that crisis, the prime minister remained at his cottage in Lac-des-Piles, Que. and monitored the federal response to the blackout over the telephone.  
 
He did appear before cameras in his hometown of Shawinigan two days after the lights went out. Any earlier public appearance during the outage would have been "grandstanding," Chretien said last week.  
 
Chretien opened a new national park adjacent to Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, on Saturday. He also spent time hiking in the region with his wife, Aline, daughter, and grandchildren.  
 
The federal government has already dispatched Canadian soldiers to the Okanagan to help fight the forest fires. Chretien indicated he was listening to the appeals of British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell for federal aid.  
 
"I heard the premier. We said that whenever he asks we can help, we're there and we'll be there."  
 
Chretien has been chided for not always being there. He was criticized for failing to go to Toronto in the initial days after the SARS outbreak earlier this year. He was also accused of being slow to speak up after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  
 
But a representative of the prime minister's office seemed prepared for this criticism. Hogue said Chretien was visible during key Canadian crises such as the Saguenay, Que. floods of 1996, the ice storm which hit eastern Ontario and Quebec in 1997, a tornado in Pine Lake Alberta in 1999 and the Winnipeg flood of 1997.  
 
The prime minister's plans in Kelowna include touring an evacuation site.  
Copyright  2003 The Canadian Press
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #26 on: Aug 23rd, 2003, 11:51pm »
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About time cretien did something other than take a holiday!...we are thinking about all in the areas affected...it's front page here even tho it's not directly affecting us here in alberta (all of ours are in control at last edition of the paper) ... very scary to see the pictures and know how fragile things are...today the smoke was pretty bad here in edmonton, so i know that it must be bad to the west.
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #27 on: Aug 24th, 2003, 10:24am »
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This is such a tragedy!  It will take years and years for nature to repair itself.  All those people and kazillions of acres of damage is nearly unfathomable.
 
Prayers coming on top of prayers!
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #28 on: Aug 24th, 2003, 11:14pm »
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thanks peoples.  when i spoke with my friend in kelowna yesterday, she said the smoke had died down a wee bit.  this is good and bad ~ good to breathe but bad because this means wind.
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Re: British Columbia state of emergency fires
« Reply #29 on: Aug 25th, 2003, 8:49am »
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The paper this morning was a little disturbing to see...the front page had two pictures...one woman in tears being comforted b/c her home was gone...and one man jumping for joy that his was safe...sad to see and a little insensitive i think.
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