February 27, 2020

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Three wildfires that forced thousands from their homes

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/5/2016 (1394 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

EDMONTON - A fire whipped by unpredictable winds and fuelled by a tinder-dry forest forced the evacuation of the entire city of Fort McMurray on Tuesday. Here are three other fires that forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

July 2015: Forest fires push about 7,000 people out of their homes in the northern Saskatchewan communities of La Ronge, Air Ronge and the Lac La Ronge First Nation. Arson is suspected. Almost 1,000 military personnel are called in help fight the blazes. There is no damage in La Ronge, but 90 minutes away in Montreal Lake, 15 families are reported to have lost their homes.

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May 2011: More than 10,000 people are forced to flee a wildfire that destroys one-third of Slave Lake, Alta. More than 500 homes and buildings — including the town hall, library and radio station — are damaged or destroyed at a cost of almost $1 billion. A pilot fighting the blaze dies when his helicopter crashes. A review done for the government says there was early panic as some people were told to leave their homes, some didn't realize they should and still others didn't understand the urgency until flames were at their front door.

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August 2003: A blaze that begins in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park in British Columbia morphs into a firestorm in windy, dry conditions. It initially threatens some homes on the shores of Lake Okanagan, but grows to more than 250 square kilometres and leads to the evacuation of 27,000 residents. More than 1,000 military personnel joing 1,000 firefighters on the line. Some 239 homes are destroyed. Three firefighters are killed.

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