Canada wildfires: almost 40,000 evacuated in British Columbia amid state of emergency

Australian firefighters called in to assistance as blazes burning across western province are expected to worsen

Canada is deploying military aircraft and Australia is sending 50 firefighters to battle rapidly spreading wildfires in British Columbia that have forced 39,000 people from their homes.

Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale said the western Canadian province had built two requests to the federal government for military assistance to fight the fires, which he told were expected to worsen.

The military has sent two airplanes and five helicopters to help with evacuations and transportation for first responders, according to the Department of National Defence.

British Columbia chief flame information officer Kevin Skrepnek said in a conference call the Australians were due to arrive on Wednesday.

There were 159 fires across the province in an area between 150 km( 95 miles) to 350 km( 217 miles) northeast of Vancouver, including 17 new ones, although the total numbers were down somewhat from 162 on Sunday, Skrepnek said. No casualties have been reported.

In a few suits, it is because we had amalgamated some of these fires together, he told. But for the most proportion, that decrease in terms of the total flames burning is an indication of progress.

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