The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency gave an update on the wildfire situation across the province as hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes.
SPSA President Marlo Pritchard gave some stats on the fires, noting there were 24 active wildfires reported Thursday morning, and the province has seen 168 in total, which doubles the five-year average.
Pritchard detailed the location and number of evacuees so far:
- 760 people are staying in Lloydminster
- 220 people are staying in North Battleford
- 94 people are staying in Regina
When asked why people in northern communities weren’t being accommodated in Saskatoon, Joan Hrycyk, director of emergency crisis support said they do searches based on availability.
“Saskatoon at the time did not have the availability,” Hrycyk said.
SPSA stressed that residents should use extreme caution when near dry grass, operating all-terrain vehicles or disposing of smoking material.
Pritchard added people should be checking Highway Hotline regularly, noting highways can be shut down due to smoke and wildfires.
A toll-free number for an information line was offered for those who were evacuated and those who have questions about the provincial fire ban: 1-855-559-5502
When asked when some of the evacuees could go back home, Bryan Chartrand, executive director of land operations said it was a difficult question to answer at this time.
He said the conditions of the fires and the weather mean the blazes will take time to be contained.
“I don’t have a magic number, but it won’t be anytime in the near future, so we’re looking at least a week-plus from now,” Chartrand said.
He said that could change with a large rain event, but that’s not forecasted.
Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index warns of very high risk for northern communities like Buffalo Narrows. Saskatoon and Regina sit around the moderate to low risk.
Firesmoke Canada, created by a research team at the University of British Columbia, shows a visual forecast of what smoke conditions will look like in Saskatchewan, as well as other parts of the country.
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