B.C. Forest Fires Continue to Rage

August 25, 2003

British Columbia’s worst forest fires in over 50 years continued to ravage the Canadian Province over the weekend. 240 homes have been lost in a blaze near Kelowna, about 185 miles (300 km) east of Vancouver, that was caused by a lightning strike on August 16. Some 30,000 residents have been forced to evacuate.

The fire is one of eight major blazes that have roared through BC’s tinder dry forests this summer. There’s been no appreciable rainfall in the past three months, making this the driest summer since 1929.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien paid a visit to the stricken area over the weekend, and promised government aid to help with rebuilding. No estimates of total or insured losses have yet been given.

The fires have affected the Province’s important timber industry, as logging crews have been forced to pull out of threatened areas.

Although no rain is forecast for the immediate future, firefighters did get a bit of a respite over the weekend, as temperatures dropped and the winds died down, allowing them to make some progress towards containg the blaze and keeping it away from buildings.

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