Officials say 2 Sask. wildfires remain a concern

·2 min read
Cameco has paused production at its Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan. On Thursday, 230 non-essential workers were ordered to leave the site. Roughly 80 mine workers remain to keep the facility in a safe state and help fire crews. (Submitted by Robin Clarke - image credit)
Cameco has paused production at its Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan. On Thursday, 230 non-essential workers were ordered to leave the site. Roughly 80 mine workers remain to keep the facility in a safe state and help fire crews. (Submitted by Robin Clarke - image credit)

At the height of a July heat wave, Saskatchewan officials say they're continuing to closely monitor two concerning uncontrolled fires.

The Lock fire and Briggs fire are among 21 wildfires that were burning in the province as of Saturday, according to the province's online wildfire situation map.

The province will begin to experience a "cooling trend" over the next few days which will assist efforts to contain and control the blazes, said Steve Roberts, vice-president of operations for the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.

However it isn't all good news.

"We won't a drastic drop in fire hazards in the near future," Roberts said during a Saturday news conference.

As part of their efforts, the public safety agency issued a provincial fire ban Friday, including a prohibition on any open fires, controlled burns and fireworks.

"The intent is to remove the potential for human-caused fires, as we anticipate more fires from lightning and managing the couple significant fire we have in the province at this time," said Roberts.

Officials said many municipalities have joined with the safety agency and instituted their own fire bans.

Roberts said as of Saturday morning, four new fires had developed over the past 24 hours.

The provincial total for 2021 so far is now 210, according to the province's online map — already ahead of the 197 fires the province has averaged each year over the past five years.

Lock fire

The Lock fire is located near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, close to Buffalo Narrows, Sask.

As of Saturday morning the Lock fire covered roughly 4,700 hectares.

Roberts said the primary concern remains the eastern flank of the fire, which is the only one that poses any danger to nearby communities.

WATCH | Climate change experts warn fires will only become more extreme in B.C.:

It's estimated to be about 20 kilometres away from nearby communities, Roberts said.

Some rain did fall since Friday, which has helped firefighting efforts and allowed officials to deploy resources including multiple fire crews, heavy equipment and water bombers.

Briggs fire

The Briggs fire is located in northern Saskatchewan, in the vicinity of the Cigar Lake uranium mine.

As of Saturday, the uncontained blaze measured more than 22,000 hectares.

However, the mine site remains secure from the blaze, Roberts said.

Cameco, the company that operates the Cigar Lake mine, said on Thursday that it had ordered about 230 workers to leave the mine site.

Roughly 80 people remain on site to keep the facility in a safe state.

Cameco's crew and the provincial wildfire team from the public safety agency remain at the mine.

"We will continue to manage this fire with crews, aircraft and heavy equipment that area already deployed to the scene," Roberts said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting