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Fire raging in Labrador grows by 50 per cent since last Wednesday

A new study links heavy air pollution from coal burning to shorter lives in northern China. Researchers estimate that the half-billion people alive there in the 1990s will live an average of 5 1/2 years less than their southern counterparts because they breathed dirtier air. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Simmons

WABUSH, N.L. – Authorities say a fire raging out of control in western Labrador and northern Quebec has grown since Wednesday by over 50 per cent.

The blaze now encompasses 270 square kilometres, about one third of which is located across the Labrador border in neighbouring Quebec.

A spokesman with the province’s Department of Natural Resources says prevailing westerly winds are both helping and hindering the firefighting efforts.

The winds are keeping the Labrador fires away from inhabited areas, but at the same time are bringing in smoke from other forest fires burning in Quebec, which is impacting visibility.

Ground crews have been deployed throughout the area to extinguish hotspots with the assistance of three water bombers and six helicopters.

Officials say light rains over the past 24 hours have helped with efforts to battle the flames and that visibility had improved by Sunday morning.

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