Northern fire crews make progress over the weekend

Rain and cooler weather have helped the wildfire situation in northern Saskatchewan

As of Sunday, there are 163 active wildfires in Saskatchewan — up from 137 active fires on Friday. The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) reported on Sunday that forest fires in northern Saskatchewan have led to poor air quality across the province.

Winds will continue to push this smoke southward across the province with very poor air quality — especially over central and northern areas of the province closer to the fires.

Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Karen Bird reminded residents of Southend that the community remains under mandatory evacuation order as wildfire is still a threat.

The SPSA has extended its evacuation order for the Whelan Bay area until Monday and reported there is no longer a threat of wildfires to the community of Grandmothers Bay.

The Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) has lifted voluntary evacuation orders there. Elders over 65 years old, children under two years old and people with medical needs are asked to wait until Monday when that decision will be made to return home or not.

Maurice Ratt, emergency response coordinator for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band reported that crews continue to work on fire lines with help from heavy equipment and air support. He said things are looking up thanks to the cooler weather, the wind expected to come from the east, and more expected rainfall.

“With the rains we are having, crews are making good progress with fire lines and hot spots,” Ratt said. “But please be advised that there are still fires burning around us.”

Crews are making progress on a wildfire near Stanley Mission and there is no threat to the community of Sucker River, although there will be heavy smoke in the area at times, Ratt said. “(The) Doug Fire has burnt itself into a local lake, it is still active and burning and is currently not a threat at this time.”

Beauval Mayor Nick Daigneault reported Saturday that “significant progress” has been made toward keeping the Forks Fire contained. Sprinklers have been recalled from the Highway 155 and Durocher Lake/Pine Ridge areas “as they are no longer necessary.”

“The fire has not yet been labelled as ‘contained’ as additional efforts need to be done before that can happen,” Daigneault said. “There is heavy smoke coverage in our community due to the shifting winds – but this does not mean the fire is growing. We were fortunate that the winds were blowing west to east, and the smoke avoided our area.”

The La Ronge Regional Fire Department reports no threat of wildfire to the town, village or adjacent reserve. Residents can expect smoky conditions to continue.

The fire department said Highway 2 isn’t expected to close again unless there is a major change in fire conditions. The fire situation appeared stable on Sunday due to the recent precipitation. The fire department said no property was damaged at Rabbit Creek and crews are making good progress on the fire.

According to the most recent available information from the SPSA, the Lock Fire nearby Dillon, Michel Village, and St. George’s Hill in the northwest is not yet listed as contained as fire crews are protecting property.

A province-wide fire ban remains in place and there are air quality warnings throughout Saskatchewan due to smokey conditions.

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