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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Fires Rage Across Canada

Aired August 4, 2003 - 19:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Unbelievable images. The wildfires raging across Canada are considered the worst in 50 years.
Flames have consumed dozens of buildings, forced the evacuation of at least 11,000 people. Alberta and British Columbia are catching the worst of it.

Reporter Mike Chisholm with CTV is tracking the latest on the wildfires. He joins us now live from British Columbia.

Mike, are firefighters any closer to containing more than 300 fires still burning?

MIKE CHISHOLM, CTV CORRESPONDENT: Well, many of them are now smaller fires and many of them are in very remote communities where nobody really cares about them. That is a natural occurrence for fires to burn in the middle of the woods, in the mountains.

But it's the areas that are closest to the communities that worries most people and has caused the biggest problems and destruction.

I am in the interior area near Vernon, British Columbia. And behind me is one of the three major fires that is burning in British Columbia. This is called the Cedars Hills Fire.

Today there's very little wind, and so the whole valley is full of smoke and cinders and dust.

We are at the roadblock on the main highway that leads into where all of the firefighters are. Most of them are working on the ground right now, trying to keep the fire contained in this area. And they are -- there is a nonstop flow of helicopters going past us with water.

This is one of the fires. Another fire further to the north has forced the evacuation of several communities. In total, across British Columbia, there is probably 7,500 people who have been displaced, who are living in evacuation centers or living in hotels or moved in with friends.

The SPCA is here trying to control -- trying to feed the animals that have been left behind. Hundreds -- not hundreds, but there have been dozens of homes completely destroyed. Businesses, like saw mills and logging operations completely destroyed.

The province is now under a state of emergency. The premiere of British Columbia declared that a couple of days ago.

And there are no shortage of communities, for instance, the one that's just about ten kilometers down this road that is on an evacuation alert, the community of Falkland has not been affected. Some of the houses leading into the community have been burned. But there is a crew of firefighters, local volunteer firefighters trying to stop the fire from coming anywhere near the building -- anywhere near the buildings.

Up on the mountains, there are fire guards being built by bulldozers to prevent the hydro pulls from being affected. And this is what's going on in almost every community where there is a major fire.

COOPER: All right, Mike Chisholm with CTV, appreciate you joining us. Thanks.

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