Elite Nova Scotia firefighters to battle wildfires burning across BC


Fast-moving wildfires in British Columbia have forced almost 40,000 people to leave their homes and residents are flooding into crowded evacuation centers amid a provincial state of emergency.

Thousands of people fled their homes in western Canada over the weekend as strong winds fanned forest fires that have ravaged British Columbia province for more than a week.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says crews are ensuring routes are clear and buses are ready if the city's 11,000 residents are suddenly forced to leave.

"Let's hope for the best, let's hope that we get a break from mother nature, but we are on the front end of the fire season and people need to be prepared", Stone said.

John Hawkings, director of recreation sites and trails, says the closure includes 165 campsites and 65 trails in the Cariboo fire centre, in addition to 18 sites outside the centre that are affected by forest fires.

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The entire city of Williams Lake - which is located about six hours northeast of Vancouver and has a population of just over 10,000 - was ordered evacuated on Saturday evening.

Orr said he saw homes on fire while driving away.

"We're here to get some help and then head to the Island", he said. Richmond says there is damage in the area, particularly on some rural properties near Abel Lake Road and Lilypad Lake Road.

"I have a 20-foot container nearly full of non perishable food, Gatorade, baby supplies, toiletries, blankets and pillows", a Chilliwack, B.C., resident said.

About 1,000 firefighters have been deployed to fight the fires.

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423 km2: area of the largest fire.

Kristi McLean posted to an Facebook evacuee support group saying she has a tent trailer at her home near Kamloops, B.C., that would be ideal for a family.

"I think basically, Mother Nature is sort of bringing forward our worst-case scenario", Cariboo Regional District Chairman Al Richmond said as winds began to pick up Saturday afternoon, prompting the expansion of evacuation orders and alerts.

The evacuation centre has been providing families with coffee, food vouchers, and other personal items, Lee said. They'll find a reception centre where they can register online and alert friends and family of their whereabouts, and access emergency support.

"The possible duration of this is different", Mr. Turner said.

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Officials thought the community might have escaped the raging wildfires after crews took advantage of a few relatively quiet days to to build some containment lines around the fires.