Partial evacuation of Stanley Mission due to wildfire and smoke

·3 min read
The Stanley Mission Emergency Operations Centre decided to evacuate some members of the community due to a wildfire burning southwest of Stanley Mission. (Chief Tammy Cook-Searson - image credit)
The Stanley Mission Emergency Operations Centre decided to evacuate some members of the community due to a wildfire burning southwest of Stanley Mission. (Chief Tammy Cook-Searson - image credit)

A partial evacuation of Stanley Mission is underway due to smoke and a nearby wildfire.

The Stanley Mission Emergency Operations Centre decided Wednesday to start evacuating vulnerable members of the community located around 400 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, according to a notice from Emergency Management Officer Maurice Ratt posted on the Lac La Ronge Indian Band (LLRIB) Emergency Response Facebook page.

The LLRIB's list of potential evacuees includes members of the health priority 1 and 2 groups, meaning people with respiratory and cardiac conditions as well as children aged 5 and under, elders 65 years or older, and expectant mothers.

However, since it is not a general evacuation, residents outside the two priority groups choosing to self-evacuate were told they would not receive support.

"We are evacuating as a precaution because we are anticipating the smoke to come into the community," said Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of Lac La Ronge Indian Band.

"It is concerning. We know the fire is close to our community."

The 3,883-hectare wildfire, also known as 22LA-MCCAFE, is burning southwest of Stanley Mission and was not contained as of Wednesday, according to an update by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) at 11 a.m.

The priority of the fire crews remains with defending the community and highway 915 – the only highway into the community – said the agency.

Evacuees being brought to Prince Albert and other cities, says LLRIB

"According to Sask. Public Safety Agency, the fire is not a threat to the community," said Cook-Searson.

"The fire did grow yesterday, and they're anticipating the wind conditions to be shifting toward the community toward the end of the week."

Cook-Searson says around 1,000 residents of Stanley Mission are being evacuated, which includes the priority groups and their families.

Overall the community has a population of just under 2,000 people, according to the LLRIB website.

While working closely with the Red Cross, buses have been available to bring people out of Stanley Mission, said the Chief in an interview with CBC.

Wednesday evening, LLRIB told CBC via Facebook messenger that the majority of evacuees are being sent to Prince Albert, while some will be in Saskatoon.

Busses were set to start rolling Wednesday afternoon, said Cook-Searson.

Three wildfires in the province are not contained

The dry weather conditions as well as the fire behaviour remain a concern, said the chief. The fire is also threatening a recently opened culture camp.

"Especially at night, you can see the glow of the fire," Cook-Searson said.

"The fire's been crossing the highway. So yesterday we were able to see the garbage dump on fire. And then the surrounding areas, there's flames going up into the tall trees, and then you can just see the fire moving."

Chief Tammy Cook-Searson
Chief Tammy Cook-Searson

The forest fire is creating locally poor air quality, primarily near and west of Stanley Mission, says Environment Canada online.

As of Wednesday evening, MCCAFE is only one of three wildfires that are not contained in Saskatchewan, meaning the fires are expected to grow in size.

The other two are west of Buffalo Narrows and west of Prince Albert National Park.

Government of Saskatchewan
Government of Saskatchewan
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