Cloverdale wildfire listed as contained, some evacuees allowed to return home Thursday evening, power expected to return today

Photo Courtesy Amy Fidyk

The wildfire burning north of Prince Albert is now contained.

The province had listed the wildfire as contained Thursday morning. The City of Prince Albert confirmed the news in a morning press release.

The city said that as of 5 p.m. Thursday, evacuees from the City of Prince Albert and RM of Buckland will be allowed to return home. RM of Garden River evacuees cannot return home at this time.

Anyone who returns home will be on a precautionary evacuation alert “and should be prepared to leave on short notice” when advised.

Crews continue to work in the area and flare-ups, smoke, personnel and large equipment are to be expected.

Highway 55 will open at 5 p.m. with a 6o km/h speed limit to allow for emergency personnel still working in the area to remain safe. There is still smoke in the area and reduced visibility.

Little Red River Park is expected to pen by 7 a.m. Friday.

The fire was considered 65 per cent contained Wednesday night. As of Thursday morning, it was listed as contained and sitting at just over 5,500 hectares, or 55 square kilometres. Officials said Wednesday that they expected cooler temperatures and calmer winds to help crews working to bring the fire under control.

An updated wildfire map shows the fire boundaries running along Highway 55 to the south, crossing the highway twice, once near its ignition point and a second time near its eastern edge. It reached almost all the way to White Star Road, the provincial map indicates. The “contained” designation means officials do not expect it to grow any further.

The evacuation order remains in place and Highway 55 and Pulp Haul Road remain closed.

The province said they are assisting about 40 people with food, water and shelter in Prince Albert Hotels. Others have self-evacuated and made their own arrangements. The city said about 75 people had registered as evacuees as of Wednesday evening.

SaskPower said it expects to restore service by 2 p.m. to the remaining 8,000 or so customers that have been without since Monday. In the La Ronge area, a local state of emergency had been declared and warming shelters opened up after the communities went more than three days without power. A cold front sweeping the province meant temperatures in many places dipped below zero overnight.

La Ronge said in a notice to residents that it wasn’t lacking supplies of food or fuel, and the local state of emergency allowed them to access additional provincial resources as the power outage continued.

The other wildfire burning in the region, in the Fort A La Corne area, grew overnight and now exceeds 1,000 hectares. It was started by a lightning strike and is burning in the same area as a 1980 fire.

Provincial officials will provide an update on the wildfire and evacuation situation at 11 a.m. today.