Canada sends more troops to tackle British Columbia wildfires

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2017 11:33 AM

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The Canadian government said on Friday it will send another 225 troops to help fight wildfires in the western province of British Columbia, as hot, dry weather conditions resumed following a day of much-needed rain.

In total, there are now 375 Canadian soldiers along with 3,600 firefighters and emergency responders tackling the flames, which have forced around 45,000 people to evacuate their homes over the past two weeks.

Around 150 wildfires are blazing across the heavily forested province, affecting 405,000 hectares and prompting the provincial government to declare a state of emergency.

Federal government ministers promised to send more help to the province as the situation unfolds.

"We are committed to providing a coordinated federal response to the people of British Columbia," Canada's Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement.

British Columbia declared its first state of emergency since 2003 on July 7 as gusty winds fanned fires that were caused by lightning and humans in the tinder-dry central and southern regions.

The fires have shut mines and timber operations and damaged homes and electrical infrastructure. Major pipeline companies in region, including Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd, a unit of Kinder Morgan Inc, have created fire breaks, installed sprinklers and taken other measures to protect operations.

On Thursday, a low pressure system tracked across British Columbia, bringing heavy showers and cooler temperatures, although emergency officials said the rain was sporadic and only fell in certain areas.

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Bernadette Baum)