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Home News La Loche declares state of emergency as fire crews battle 226-hectare blaze in northern Sask.

La Loche declares state of emergency as fire crews battle 226-hectare blaze in northern Sask.

La Loche declares state of emergency as fire crews battle 226-hectare blaze in northern Sask.
Smoke rises from the forest near the Northern Village of La Loche in this photo taken on Wednesday, May 3. -- Velma Herman/La Loche Wildfire Update Group

Residents of the Village of La Loche and Clearwater River Dene Nation have been placed under a mandatory evacuation order as a 226-hectare wildfire continues to burn between the two northern Saskatchewan communities.

Thirteen wildfires are actively burning across the province, but the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) said their biggest fire of concern is the one forcing up to 3,000 northern residents to leave their homes in search of safety in the south.

“There has been no growth in the last 36 hours,” said SPSA Vice-President of Operations Steve Roberts. “No homes, businesses, or infrastructure have been burnt or damaged by the fire. There have been some minor losses – a shed and an abandoned vehicle.”

As of Friday morning, 147 individuals have registered with the SPSA for evacuation and are travelling to or have already arrived at the designated evacuation spot in Regina. Roberts said the number of people that have self-evacuated is unknown.

The SPSA has seen some successes over the past 48 hours, as government type 1 response crews and local type 2 crews continue battling the blaze using heavy equipment, helicopter and air tanker supports.

While he was unable to say what specifically started the fire near La Loche, Roberts confirmed that all wildfires currently burning in the province are the result of human activity and will be investigated by the agency for cause and origin.

“We know they’re human-caused. We haven’t had [any] lightning this year so it’s pretty easy to calculate out,” said Roberts.
Hot and dry weather conditions are predicted to continue over the next 72 hours, increasing the risk of new fires starting and current ones spreading, according to the SPSA.

There have been 73 wildfires in Saskatchewan so far in 2023, with more than 190 grassfires reported in the first five days of May alone.