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U.S. fires could jump border, Canadian communities warned

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Saturday, August 22, 2015, 6:04 PM - Residents living along the Canadian border east of Osoyoos, B.C. are concerned as strong winds could push a massive wildfire in northeastern Washington over the border.

Osoyoos is located in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley in B.C. where several massive wildfires continue to burn. Rock Creek, which is 50 per cent contained, has burned over 4,000 hectares to date and has torched 30 homes and 15 other structures. Other wildfires of note include Oliver and Testalinden Creek, which according to B.C. Wildfire Centre's latest report, is 50 per cent contained.

Special air quality statements remain in effect for many communities due to smoky skies.

Evacuation alerts could be issued for the people of Grand Forks and Christina Lake due to the 175-square kilometre Stickpin fire in northeastern Washington State. As a result, the BC Wildfire Service is doubling up on efforts to contain the Paulson Pass blaze which is burning just north of Christina Lake.

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"While winds have been quite variable, it looks like Sunday will have a bit more of a predominant southerly flow, which could unfortunately carry the smoke over the border," The Weather Network meteorologist Kelly Sonnenburg noted.

During a town meeting in Grand Folks, B.C. Thursday night, officials discussed sending Canadian firefighters over the border to help battle the Stickpin blaze, as resources in Washington are limited.

"We're putting a great deal of effort (into) trying to pinch it off from the north," Alan Hoffmeister, a fire information officer in Washington told CBC. "Frankly, we're very strapped for resources we need."

Over 30 large uncontrolled fires in Washington have burned over 160,000 hectares, killing three firefighters earlier this week. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

In the video above, YouTube user Laura Love is seen driving through in the direct path of a wildfire in north-central Washington.

A federal emergency was declared by President Obama Friday, which freed up federal funding for emergency operations, counseling and public health assessments, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Friday's wind gusts were of major concern as they were forecasted to hit as high as 80 km/h.

"That's going to be a very big test of our fire lines and without any moisture to help us out," Kale Casey, fire spokesman in Chelan, Washington told the LA Times. "We've been here three weeks, and the minimal rain that we got brought lightning, which then brought havoc in Chelan," he said.

"We need a long, good old-fashioned rain, but there's none of that in sight. Its been a record drought summer."

Source: CBC | Los Angeles Times | BC Wildfire Service

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