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Forest Fire Forces Evacuation Of 6,500 Homes In Western Canada

Raw video : VANCOUVER, July 19 (Xinhua) -- The forest fire in Kelowna, Canada's western province of British Columbia (B.C.), is spreading rapidly, forcing emergency evacuation of 6,500 homes and damaging nine houses, the provincial Ministry of Forests said Sunday.

Spurred by the dry conditions, strong wind and hot weather, the fire, which was first reported just before 3 p.m. local time Saturday, has quickly swelled from initial 15 hectares to about 300 hectares as of Sunday.

So far, at least nine homes have been destroyed, according to provincial Forests Minister Pat Bell. He said the fire has the potential to be worse than a devastating fire six years ago in that area that destroyed more than 200 homes.

Evacuation orders have been put in place for communities in the affected area, Jenelle Turpin of the B.C. Ministry of Forests' emergency operations center said. About 17,000 residents have left6,500 homes and there has been no report of injuries.

As of Saturday night, 45 firefighters, seven helicopters and eight waterbombers have been dispatched to contain the blaze. Another 80 firefighters from the B.C. Forest Service are expected to arrive at the site Sunday.

The area, which lies in the B.C. interior, is not unfamiliar with forest fires. The most notable one is in 2003, when a 250 square-kilometer fire ravaged Okanagan Mountain Park and led to the evacuation of about 27,000 people and destruction of over 200 homes.  

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Added: Jul-20-2009 
By: barnesy
Tags: Forest fire forces evacuation of 6, 500 homes in western Canada
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