Amphibious airtankers from Quebec heading to northern Sask. to aid in wildfire suppression efforts

Members of the La Ronge Fire Department work to suppress a wildfire near the community of Sucker River while a SPSA aircraft flies overhead. -- Photo from the La Ronge Regional Fire Department Facebook page.

Twenty-nine active wildfires are still burning across the province and with Friday marking the beginning of May long weekend, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) is reminding residents to remain diligent while outdoors.

“Take extreme caution, especially when on or near dry grass, or when operating all-terrain vehicles, using tools, or disposing of smoking materials,” said SPSA President and Fire Commissioner Marlo Pritchard.

While giving a brief update on the wildfire situation in Saskatchewan on Friday, Pritchard encouraged checking the Highway Hotline regularly before leaving on your weekend destination.

“Highways may be closed or impacted due to wildfire or smoke,” said Pritchard. “Please avoid travel to the impacted areas in the north at this time.”

As of 9 a.m. on Friday morning, Highway 165 from Junction 910 to Junction 914 was currently the only highway closed in the province due to wildfire.

While most highway closures have reopened since earlier in the week, “that could change depending on wildfire and smoke behavior”.
Pritchard warns that Highway 10 will be closed off for fire operations soon, so anyone in or near the Besnard Lake campground is asked to leave the area immediately.

Travel advisories also remain in place for the area of Montreal River and Besnard Lake.

To compliment the SPSA’s wildfire suppression efforts, two CL-415 amphibious tankers provided by the Government of Quebec are enroute to Saskatchewan and will be integrated into the aerial fleet over the weekend.

A total of four pilots and two engineers will accompany the aircrafts while in the province for the next two weeks. The support is being provided through an already established mutual aid resource compact between the provinces, said Pritchard.

“We urge everyone across the province to be diligent in preventing fires and protecting their communities,” said Pritchard. “Every small action matters.”

The SPSA launched a toll-free information line earlier in the week for those who have evacuated their communities or for questions around the provincial fire ban. Information can be found by calling 1-855-559-5502.