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Canada wildfires displace nearly 7,000

Wed 27 May 2015, 10:50:57
Ottawa: Nearly 7,000 people in Canada's Alberta province have been evacuated from the path of wildfires which threaten to ravage homes and businesses, including oil refineries in the region, officials have said.
More than 1,600 firefighters are battling the 70 wildfires, 55 of which were sparked by lightning on Sunday.

Since then, a province-wide ban on campsite and backyard fires has been issued, and the government is considering calling in help from the United States and Mexico, with 20 of the blazes are burning "out of control."

Fire has creeped to within 20 kilometres of homes or oil facilities, Alberta Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier said during a telephone briefing.

Some 2,000 workers were evacuated from Cenovus and Canadian Natural Resources Limited oil facilities in the Cold Lake region, as a fire 10,000 hectares in size threatened to cut off the only access roads. The two bitumen mines account for 233,000 barrels of oil produced per day or 10 per cent of the region's total upstream oil production.

None of the oil facilities themselves are threatened.However, "it's going to take time for our fire fighters to get in there and get the fire under control," an Alberta fire official told the briefing.

As well, 4,700 residents of the Wabasca hamlet were ordered evacuated, and 67 people were forced to flee a housing subdivision near Slave Lake.
Government evacuation centres have been set up for displaced people, officials said.Meanwhile, most of Alberta faces a "high to severe" threat of fire.

"Weather will continue to be warm and dry this week," an official said."There will be storms rolling in but they won't be enough to quell the fires."


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