Highway 55 reopened after northern Sask. wildfire contained

·3 min read
Prince Albert RCMP say firefighters and utility crews are still actively working in the Highway 55 area. (Albert Couillard/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Prince Albert RCMP say firefighters and utility crews are still actively working in the Highway 55 area. (Albert Couillard/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Highway 55 has been reopened in the aftermath of the Cloverdale wildfire north of Prince Albert, Sask., about 135 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. The fire is now contained.

Saskatchewan RCMP say that Pulp Haul Road and Honeymoon Road, from Whitestar Road to Highway 55, will be accessible to firefighters, SaskPower and SaskTel traffic only.

Prince Albert RCMP say firefighters and utility crews are still actively working in the Highway 55 area and asked drivers to be mindful of the workers. They have implemented a temporary reduced speed limit of 60 km/hr.

"We have crews that are still mopping up, still doing work within the area. And we just want everyone to go home safe. So please be careful," said Kris Olsen, chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department.

Kris Olsen, chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department, updates the media on the Cloverdale wildfire cleanup on Thursday.
Kris Olsen, chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department, updates the media on the Cloverdale wildfire cleanup on Thursday. (Albert Couillard/Radio-Canada)

Olsen said containing the wildfire over the last few days has been back-breaking work. But the drop in hot temperatures helped.

"The cold front coming in gave us some reprieve. We were able to send some of our crews home who had been working 36, 40 hours on the line ... absolutely exhausted. And today with the announcement from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency that they had 100 percent containment, that's great news," Olsen said.

Meanwhile, police say they continue to actively patrol the area affected by the wildfire.

The aftermath of the Cloverdale wildfire, just north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
The aftermath of the Cloverdale wildfire, just north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. (Albert Couillard/Radio-Canada)

Power slow to return

As of 8 p.m. CST Thursday, 8,000 SaskPower customers were still without power, according to Joel Cherry, spokeperson for SaskPower.

"All of the work that we're doing is on that one main transmission line that feeds that whole corridor north of P.A. up to La Ronge," Cherry said.

SaskPower equipment got stuck in the mud throughout Thursday, as workers tried to fix fire-damaged power structures.
SaskPower equipment got stuck in the mud throughout Thursday, as workers tried to fix fire-damaged power structures. (SaskPower)

He said that the 15 power structures that had been damaged by the wildfire have been repaired. As of Thursday evening, SaskPower workers were doing electrical work to get the line "re-energized."

As of 9:10 p.m. CST, power was restored in the area. Cherry said SaskPower struggled and were slowed down Thursday due to boggy conditions on-location.

"We had to deal with some pretty tough conditions today ... Given how dry it's been, I wouldn't have expected for it to be as wet as it is. And that's just what that environment's like. It's really wet and marshy."

Many of the giant track machines SaskPower uses to get people and equipment into the wildfire-affected area got stuck in "boggy" conditions Thursday.
Many of the giant track machines SaskPower uses to get people and equipment into the wildfire-affected area got stuck in "boggy" conditions Thursday. (SaskPower)

Cherry said many of the giant track machines SaskPower uses to get people and equipment into the affected area were getting stuck.

"So we definitely had to overcome some adversity to get the work done. But it's looking positive."

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