Canadian wildfires ease, 6,000 people head home

Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:21pm EDT
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - About 6,000 people evacuated because of wildfires that threaten a western Canadian community returned to their homes on Tuesday as crews made progress containing the blazes.

Firefighters have taken advantage of favorable wind conditions to expand containment lines around the fires that have threatened housing subdivisions west of Kelowna, British Columbia, since the weekend, officials said.

About 5,000 people remain evacuated.

Authorities have expressed fears that unusually dry conditions in south-central British Columbia this summer will result in more wildfires in the area, which was also hit by major fires in 2003.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd, editing by Peter Galloway)

<p>Firefighters clean up hotspots in an area where a wild fire burned in Kelowna, British Columbia, northeast of Vancouver, July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>