Two massive northern BC wildfires merge, destroying 32 buildings - Canadanewsmedia
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Two massive northern BC wildfires merge, destroying 32 buildings



Large wildfire in Northern B.C. has destroyed 32 buildings, leaving many homeless

At least 32 buildings have been destroyed so far in the meged South Stikine River and Alkali Lake blazes, shown here on Aug. 8, 2018.


Two large fires burning in northern B.C. have merged into one, now covering some 30,000 hectares near the Telegraph Creek area.

The merged Alkali Lake and South Stikine River fires have so far destroyed 32 buildings in and around the Tahltan First Nation, with up to 45 per cent of the remaining buildings damaged by fire.

“Most of the structures were family homes, both on and outside of the reserve,” said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. “It’s going to take years to rebuild what’s been lost, and it’s going to take decades for the land to be restored to where it was before, because we’ve lost a lot of forests.”

Day’s own family ranch, which has been passed down generations, was damaged in the fire. “That’s been quite devastating for us, but at least our home is safe,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to fundraise and take care of the financial needs of the people.”

Traditional economies — like fishing and berry picking — and planned ceremonies and music festivals are expected to be impacted by the fires.

Fire information officer Heather Rice said there are 11 helicopters, an air tanker and 130 fire personnel on the ground fighting the merged fire, with a focus on protecting the remaining structures and infrastructure.

“The main challenge is the significant winds we’re seeing that have not proven to die down,” Rice said. “We’re looking at possibly 50 km winds gusting. And that would not be in our favour.”

Nation to nation support has been strong throughout this ordeal, Day said.

“We’ve received donations from the Haisla, the Kaska, the Tlingit, the Wet’suwet’en, the Tsilhqot’in, the Nisga’a … these donations continue to come in and we’ve received support from our neighbours and beyond — It’s been overwhelming.”

Two trucks full of food, toiletries and generators were donated by the Tl’etinqox Nation (Anaham) to the evacuees of Telegraph Creek on Thursday.

Back in 2017, the Tl’etinqox community faced a fire themselves and made headlines when many stayed behind to defend their homes.

“We’ve been through this ordeal. So now that this opportunity to help out another community has presented itself we’ll take it,” said band councillor Cecil Grinder, after driving eight hours to drop off the items in Smithers. “We never lost any buildings (ourselves), but these guys lost a lot because Telegraph Creek is more dense in the forest.”

While the fire affecting Telegraph Creek is currently the worst, there are 467 other fires burning across the province.

Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.’s chief fire information officer, said what’s unusual this year was “that from one corner of the province to the other, we’re quite busy, it’s not one particular area,” he said.

Helicopters and water bombers fight a small forest fire along Highway 99 north of Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, BC., August 9, 2018.

Nick Procaylo /


Meanwhile, crews in West Vancouver began battling a wildfire in the forests above Horseshoe Bay on Thursday morning after receiving about 100 calls.

Throughout the day the fire grew to three hectares, in an area difficult to access due to a hazardous terrain.

While there are no houses immediately threatened by the fire, the pivotal factor will be the wind.

West Vancouver assistant fire chief Jeff Bush said it’s believed a human-caused.

“It could either be a campfire or someone tossing a cigarette,” he said. “We’re urging residents to take extreme caution in these dry conditions.”

The Baden Powell and White Lake trails in and around the area will be closed to the public, while officials are urging residents in Horseshoe Bay and Howe Sound with respiratory illnesses to stay indoors due to the amount of smoke.

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No apologies for heckler




Hate speech and the politics of division are creating a "dangerous path" for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday as he vowed to steer clear of such roads and to continue calling out those who rely on "extremist" methods to make their voices heard.

Trudeau made the comments when asked whether he went too far in accusing a Quebec woman of racism and intolerance as she heckled him last week during a rally in Quebec.

During a campaign-style rally Thursday southeast of Montreal, the woman shouted questions in French at Trudeau, asking him when the federal government would repay Quebec for costs it has incurred as a result of an influx of "illegal immigrants" coming over the Canada-U.S. border.

The Quebec government has demanded Ottawa pay the full costs of social services provided to so-called irregular migrants who have crossed into Canada between established border crossings over the past couple of years — costs the province says have reached $146 million so far.

The prime minister responded to the woman by accusing her of intolerance and racism and saying her sentiments were not welcome.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for a new Amazon distribution warehouse east of Ottawa, Trudeau said he fears a rise in extreme populism, particularly surrounding immigration issues, with some feeding fear and intolerance using partial truths and "outright lies."

"There has been a polarization in our political discourse," Trudeau said as construction machinery clattered in the background.

"And there are people who are trying to feed fears and intolerance for a broad range of reasons. … I will remain positive and remain pulling people together, pulling communities together right across this country."

Progressive Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau is using personal attacks to shut down criticism of his government.

"This is a calculated Liberal strategy to avoid being accountable for their record," Scheer said in a statement Monday evening. "Instead of demonizing critics, Justin Trudeau should confront the problem."

Ontario's minister responsible for immigration, Lisa MacLeod, was on hand Monday for Trudeau's news conference. It's the prime minister who is creating divisions by shouting "racism" at those who question his government's immigration policies, she said.

"I think when the prime minister, when confronted with some of the problems his government has created, turns around and fearmongers and calls people un-Canadian or racist, (he) really debases the debate that we're having."

Ontario's new Conservative government has also called on the federal government to foot the bill for services provided to asylum seekers, which that province has tallied at $200 million and climbing.

A woman who identified herself on social media as a member of the right-wing group Storm Alliance took responsibility for the confrontation with Trudeau in a post on Facebook. The group has been behind protests denouncing the arrival of asylum seekers at an irregular border crossing near St-Bernard-de-Lacolle.

"Pretty happy that I participated in him blowing a gasket," the post says.

The federal government has so far offered a total of $50 million to Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba to offset expenses incurred as a result of a spike in asylum seekers entering the country by way of unofficial entry points along the Canada-U.S. border. Of that sum, Quebec — where the bulk of the crossings have taken place — would receive $36 million.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he hopes to persuade people that diversity is good for the province.

"If someone tells me they are worried about diversity, I will accept this worry exists and I will try to explain my point of view, that it (diversity) is something that can be very positive for our society," Couillard told reporters Monday.

The issue of irregular border crossings could become a wedge issue in the campaign leading up to the next federal election scheduled for the fall of 2019.

At an event Sunday marking Trudeau's formal nomination to run for re-election in the Montreal riding of Papineau, Trudeau emphasized the fight against extremist populism as a plank in his party's 2019 platform, and accused Scheer of exploiting fear and division.

— With files from Mylene Crete and Caroline Plante

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the confrontation with Trudeau occurred Sunday.

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Multiple victims of Bombay Bhel bombing will discuss 'plan of action' today




Multiple victims of a bomb blast at a popular Indian restaurant in Mississauga, Ont., in late May will discuss their "plan of action" during a news conference Tuesday morning. 

They are expected to speak alongside their lawyers at 11 a.m. at Diamond and Diamond Personal Injury Lawyers in Toronto.

Peel Regional Police alleged two disguised suspects entered Bombay Bhel on the evening of May 24, planted an improvised explosive device that contained nails, then fled. Moments later, the device detonated.  

The blast wounded 15 people, three of whom suffered "critical blast injuries," according to paramedics. All have since been released from hospital. 

40 people in restaurant at time of blast

Groups of families and friends were celebrating birthdays at the restaurant, nestled in a small plaza near the intersection of Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue E.

Bombay Bhel is a staple for many in the Greater Toronto Area's South Asian community who dine there for a taste of home. 

About 40 people were inside the restaurant at the time, many of whom were children under 10. Witnesses described a chaotic scene of broken glass and bloodied diners.

Victims of a bomb blast at Bombay Bhel restaurant ranged in age from 23 to 69, police said. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Peel Police Chief Jennifer Evans has previously said there is no indication the bombing was a terrorist act or hate crime. Investigators have not released a motive nearly three months after the bombing and no group has taken responsibility for it. 

The bombed-out restaurant sustained a "considerable amount of damage," Evans said, and has been closed since.

Owner Mohan Nagpal declined and interview with CBC Toronto on Tuesday. He anticipates Bombay Bhel will reopen in a few weeks.  

A dedicated police task force, established to investigate the case, is looking for two suspects. Both were initially believed to be male, but investigators now say one may be female.

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Vancouver Weather: Sunny, air quality alert still in effect




Smoke from hundreds of wildfires burning around the province is creating a thick haze over Metro Vancouver.

A seaplane takes off from the harbour as smoke from wildfires burning in the province fills the air, in Vancouver, on Monday August 20, 2018.


VANCOUVER, B.C. – Tuesday looks like it will be another smoky day in Metro Vancouver. Environment Canada says although the forecast is mainly sunny, it’s unlikely the region will see much of it as another day of widespread smoke is expected. That thick haze will likely stick around tomorrow, but there may be some improvement on Thursday. Tuesday’s temperature highs are 23 C and 30 C inland. The agency is continuing its air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter from the hundreds of wildfires burning around the province and in the U.S.

Elevated levels of fine particulate matter are expected to persist until there is a change in fire or weather conditions. The agency warns particulate matter can get inside your home, so they are advising people keep their windows closed.

People with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

Weather: Vancouver, B.C.

Today: Mainly sunny. Widespread smoke. High 23 C except 30 C inland. Humidex 28. UV index 7 or high.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Widespread smoke. Low 16 C.

Tomorrow: A mix of sun and cloud. Widespread smoke. High 22 C except 28 C inland. Humidex 27. UV index 7 or high.

Source: Environment Canada

Traffic: Lower Mainland

Here’s a live traffic map of what’s happening across the region’s roads. Use command + scroll to zoom in and out.

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