8 C
Prince Albert
Monday, May 20, 2024
Home News Hundreds of residents flee their homes as firefighters continue battling blaze in northern Sask.

Hundreds of residents flee their homes as firefighters continue battling blaze in northern Sask.

Hundreds of residents flee their homes as firefighters continue battling blaze in northern Sask.
An SPSA helicopter carriers water towards a wildfire near Sucker River on May 13. -- Photo from the La Ronge Fire Department Facebook page.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) provided a brief update on the wildfires burning across northern Saskatchewan that are forcing hundreds of people from their homes to evacuation sites in search of safety.

Those being supported with food, clothing, shelter, and “other services as necessary” by the Agency include 760 people evacuated to Lloydminster, 220 people evacuated to North Battleford and 54 people evacuated to Regina, said SPSA President Marlo Pritchard.

When asked when evacuees can expect to return home during a media briefing on Thursday, SPSA’s Director of Land Operations Bryan Chartrand said the size of the fires and the dry conditions faced in the province play a big role in the timeline.

“It’s going to take some time for us to get them contained, so I don’t have a magic number but it won’t be any time in the near future,” said Chartrand. “We are looking at least a week plus from now, unless we get a large rain event that is not forecasted right now.”

The wildfires of biggest concern for the SPSA are the Vermette fire southwest of Dillon, which is an estimated 45,000 hectares, the Shaw fire near Buffalo Narrows, which is more than 84,800 hectares in size, and the Smith Fire north of Pinehouse, measuring out to around 103,624 hectares.

The fires are being resourced by Type 1 and Type 2 firefighters, heavy equipment, helicopters and air tanker support, said Pritchard. While no structural damages have yet been reported, Chartrand said the SPSA is continuing to assess any loss value around the fires.

“Due to smoke, visibility has been very challenging for us to get out and to do these assessments,” said Chartrand. “With the wind changing, that will open up portions of the fires, so we will be doing those assessments and documenting and providing that information when available.”

There have been 168 wildfires in Saskatchewan to date, which is about double the 87 fires the SPSA has seen as a five-year average, said Pritchard.

The SPSA is encouraging everyone to remain diligent to prevent fires in the province and protect their communities, including not driving or parking on dry grass, avoiding ATV use in dry areas, and taking caution when disposing of smoking material.