Forest fire smoke prompts emergency landing

Forest fire smoke prompts emergency landing

5 September 2006

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B.C., Canada — Thick smoke from a large forest fire straddling the B.C.-Washington border prompted an Air Canada jet from Toronto to make an emergency landing in Vancouver over the weekend.

The crew asked to make an emergency landing at Vancouver International Airport on Sunday after smoke entered the cockpit of the Air Canada Airbus, which was en route from Toronto to Vancouver with 83 passengers on board.

Officials determined the smoke was actually from the forest fire and not a result of a fire on the plane, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told the Canadian Press.

The fire was burning early Tuesday south of the town of Princeton, about 200 kilometres east of Vancouver, after crossing the B.C. border late Sunday. It is estimated to cover about 5,700 hectares, with about 1,000 hectares burning in B.C.

Fire enters third week

Officially called the Tatoosh fire, the blaze was started Aug. 22 by a lightning strike.

It was not threatening any B.C. homes or buildings late Monday. However, residents of the community of East Gate, a town of about 170 with mostly seasonal homes, are preparing for possible evacuation should the fire increase in size or change direction.

B.C. fire officials are also keeping a close eye on a blaze known as the Tripod Complex fire, which continued to burn Tuesday about four kilometres south of the Canada-U.S. border close to Keremeos, B.C.

A fire management team has been sent to the town of Oliver, B.C., about 30 kilometres south of Penticton, in case it crosses the border.

The Tripod fire is estimated to cover about 62,000 hectares.

Sprinklers dispatched to remote cabins

Fire officials were hoping to survey the Tatoosh fire from the air on Tuesday to evaluate its size and progress. Crews with emergency sprinklers arrived late Monday to help battle the blaze, and were expected to put those sprinklers in place Tuesday after identifying cabins in the area that are most at risk.

Meanwhile in East Gate, about 20 kilometres north of the Canada-U.S. border and east of Manning Provincial Park, residents were on alert on Monday and dealing with smoke.

Although the fire is a considerable distance from Princeton, officials said smoke could be a problem for residents. They have set up an emergency operation centre in Princeton Hospital to answer any concerns from members of the public.


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