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Lightning ignites fire at Winter Olympics venue

Updated: Friday, 31 Jul 2009 08:28

Lightning ignites fire at Winter Olympics venue

Hundreds of tourists were evacuated Thursday from a mountain venue where several events for the 2010 Winter Olympics are to be held, after a lightning strike sparked a fire at the site.

Officials evacuated tourists from Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler Resort after the lightning strike ignited the wildfire, a spokeswoman told AFP.

'There were 350 sightseers on the mountain, who were evacuated' resort spokeswoman Jessica Delaney said, adding that high temperatures and a lack of rain have rendered the area 'timber dry.'

The fire Thursday began on the northwest flank of Blackcomb Mountain, officials said in a statement.

Delaney told AFP that by 6.00pm local time, the fire covered 75 hectares (about one-third of a square mile) and was burning out of control.

A statement by the British Columbia forestry service said ground crews, seven air tankers and several helicopters were battling the blaze.

Bobsled, luge and skeleton events are to be held at the site during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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