Smoke on the water

Diefenbaker Bridge is barely visible in the background thanks to a cold front that caused smoke from wildfires in Saskatchewan and Alberta, to gather in Central Saskatchewan. Jason Kerr/Daily Herald.

Residents of Prince Albert and central Saskatchewan can expect smoke from the Alberta wildfires to drift over the province throughout Wednesday, according to an air quality alert from Environment Canada.

A cold front moving southwards through Saskatchewan will cause forest fire smoke to collect over the northern prairies. As the front continues southward, Environment Canada expects it to drag a band of thicker smoke through most regions of central and southern Saskatchewan.

Officials issued a Special Air Quality Statement for Prince Albert, Shellbrook, Spiritwood, and Duck Lake at 2:53 p.m. on Tuesday.  Air quality alerts were also issued for the District of Lakeland, including Emma Lake and Anglin Lake, the communities of Spruce Home, Debden, Meath Park, Albertville, Parkside, Paddockwood, Candle Lake, Davis, Spiritwood, Leoville, and Domremy.

First Nation communities Wahpeton, Muskoday, Big River, Beardy’s, Mistawasis, Sturgeon Lake, and One Arrow also received air quality alerts.

Even at low concentrations, wildfire smoke can be harmful to everyone’s health. Residents with lung or heart diseases, older adults, children, pregnant women, and outdoor workers are at higher risk of experiencing negative health effects.

A view of the Diefenbaker bridge clouded by smoke near the walking trail along the 400 block of River Street West on Tuesday afternoon. Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency issued a second Travel Advisory Alert on Tuesday, this time for the Besnard Lake Area west of La Ronge.

According to the alert, a fast-moving fire called the Wistigo Fire is burning through the area with “extreme fire intensity.” The SPSA says there is only a single access route in and out of the area, leading to an increased threat of entrapment.

The SPSA also issued an alert on Monday warning travellers to avoid the area on and near the Montreal River north of Hwy No. 2 and Junction 165. The SPSA says there is a wildfire burning 4 km north of the junction. In addition to drivers, they have also warned canoeists to not use that section of the Montreal River as it would pull personnel and resources from the wildfire response if someone became trapped.

The City of Prince Albert extended the fire ban at Little Red to include the entire city on Tuesday. The ban means no open fires are permitted, although self-contained heating devices, gas barbecues, propane fire pits, and charcoal briquettes are allowed.

The City issued the ban at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. It came into effect immediately.