Hundreds return home as B.C. wildfires cool

Hundreds return home as B.C. wildfires cool

11 August 2009

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Canada — Hundreds of people across B.C. forced from their communities because of wildfires will be headed home on Tuesday as rain and cooler temperatures help firefighters reduce the wildfire threat.

But with hundreds of fires still burning across the province, more than 1,800 people remain under evacuation orders, and thousands more remain under evacuation alerts, ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice.

In the Okanagan Valley, about 600 people will be allowed to return home now that the Terrace Mountain blaze is better contained, but 1,500 residents on the northwest shore of Okanagan Lake will remain under an evacuation order.

On the Central Coast, where rain is helping firefighters battle two wildfires, about 50 people from the Kluskus First Nation will be allowed to return home on Tuesday after they were airlifted out last week.

Evacuation alerts have also been lifted all across the Bella Coola Valley for people living in 84 homes in the area. However, the Heckman Pass 80 km east of Bella Coola, remained closed on account of a wildfire, and Highway 20 was only opened to traffic twice each day — conditions permitting — at 8 a.m. PT and 6 p.m. PT.

In the southwest Interior, evacuation orders will stay in place for about 300 residents west of Lillooet in the community of Seton Portage for least a few more days as a 14-square kilometre wildfire continues to threaten residents.

Just to the east, residents living near the Brookmere wildfire, south of Merritt, could soon get some good news. The blaze, which covers nearly 29-square kilometers, is 90 per cent contained, and officials are recommending all evacuation alerts be lifted in the region on Tuesday.

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