Northern Sask. evacuees able to return home, but wildfires remain uncontained

Wildfire burns near the highway between Buffalo Narrows and Ile a la Crosse in this photo taken on Sunday, May 14. -- Photo posted to the La Loche Wildfire Update Group on Facebook.

Hundreds of wildfire evacuees in northern Saskatchewan are now able to return home.

According to council in Buffalo Narrows, Dillon, St. George’s Hill and Ille-a-la-Crosse, the evacuation orders have been rescinded based on guidance from local health professionals and the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).

According to the update, priority one and two residents who wish to remain evacuated will still have access to emergency resources. These residents include the elderly, children and people with respiratory conditions.

The SPSA did not host a media update on the wildfires on Thursday. The next update is scheduled for Friday morning.

In its media briefing on Wednesday, vice-president of operations Steve Roberts said most of the fires of concern received little precipitation. However, the rain has led the SPSA to lift the provincial fire ban.

The Vermette fire, burning southwest of Dillon, has grown to over 65,000 hectares. The SPSA says crews are continuing to work at the perimeter of the fire, and have begun to fight the interior in the northeast area.

The other fire in the region is the Shaw fire between Buffalo Narrows and Ille-a-la-Crosse. As of Thursday, it’s listed as over 133,000 hectares.

Crews are continuing to work around hotspots, securing powerlines and using water trucks to work their way into the fire’s perimeter.

As of Thursday, 24 wildfires are burning in Saskatchewan.

Several of these fires are not contained, including the Vermette and Shaw fires, the Wistigo fire southeast of Pinehouse Lake, the Sharp fire north of La Ronge and the KPIR02 fire south of Deschambault Lake.