"Thousands Flee Western Canadian Wildfires"

"VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Emergency crews made slow progress Sunday to contain wildfires that have forced thousands of residents of a western Canadian community to flee their homes.

Wind and dry conditions were fueling the large blazes that broke out Saturday in the rugged hills along Okanagan Lake west of the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, where housing subdivisions have encroached on the surrounding forest in recent years.

'The winds are definitely adding to the fire activity,' said Elise Riedlinger, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Forest Service, which has not estimated when the fires can be brought under control.

No injuries or deaths were reported, but at least three homes are known to have been destroyed and possibly more.

Fire crews and employees manning waterhoses were able to protect a large Gorman Brothers Ltd. sawmill complex that had been threatened.

About 17,000 people have been told to either leave their homes or be ready to evacuate on a moment's notice if asked by emergency officials."

Allan Dowd reports for Reuters July 20, 2009.

Monday, July 20, 2009