National News

Aust sends help amid Canada fires

Canada is deploying military aircraft and Australia is sending 50 firefighters to battle rapidly spreading wildfires in British Columbia that have forced 39,000 people from their homes, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says.

Goodale told reporters on Monday that the provincial government had made two requests of the federal for military assistance to fight the fires, which he said were expected to worsen.

Local governments issued more than a dozen evacuation notices over the weekend, increasing the number of evacuees to 39,000 from 14,000 last week, according to British Columbia's Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

British Columbia, which this month declared its first state of emergency since 2013, has announced $C100 million ($A100 million) in emergency funds. The Canadian Red Cross will hand out stipends of $C600 to help displaced people, and other money will be reserved for rebuilding.

Other jurisdictions have agreed to send some 260 personnel to the area.

The fires were burning across an area ranging from 150 km to 350 km northeast of Vancouver and have affected public utilities and industries including timer and mining.

In 2016, forest fires in Fort McMurray in neighbouring Alberta province displaced 88,000 people and burned 590,000 hectares.

© RAW 2017

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