More evacuations due to wildfires ordered in Saskatchewan's north

·3 min read
Plumes of smoke from wildfires can be seen at Candle Lake, Sask., in a photo posted to Twitter on Thursday. Some people who have been forced from their homes are being taken to Candle Lake. (Jorgsbj/Twitter - image credit)
Plumes of smoke from wildfires can be seen at Candle Lake, Sask., in a photo posted to Twitter on Thursday. Some people who have been forced from their homes are being taken to Candle Lake. (Jorgsbj/Twitter - image credit)

More evacuations are underway in Saskatchewan's north as wildfires continue to rage.

On Thursday afternoon, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency ordered everyone in the Whelan Bay area around Whiteswan Lake to immediately leave their homes.

Officials are going door to door to make sure everyone is out. People are being ordered to gather at the community hall in Candle Lake.

SaskTel and SaskPower are also reporting outages north of La Ronge.

Stanley Mission, Fond du Lac, Wollaston Lake, Black Lake and other communities have lost internet, wireless and landline services.

SaskPower also says power is out at Grandmother's Bay, Missinipe, Hatchet Lake and Wollaston Lake. In some cases, wooden power poles have burned.

Number of fires well above 5-year-average

There have been 367 wildfires in Saskatchewan since the start of the year, exceeding the province's five-year average by more than 150 fires, said officials.

According to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, the five-year average is 209 wildfires a year.

Kendall Latimer/CBC
Kendall Latimer/CBC

As of Thursday, 129 fires remain active, nine of which were reported as new.

"We have been able to contain a number of fires from yesterday as well, so we get some contained, and we get some new ones," said Steve Roberts, vice-president of operations for public safety agency, during a briefing with media on Thursday.

"We have a mixed bag of types of behaviours and changes to those fire types."

The wildfires are spread throughout Saskatchewan's far north, four of which are concerning due to their proximity to communities.

Direct threat to several communities

The province's biggest fire, the Lock Fire, has been burning since June 28, according to the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System, and grew to 23,300 hectares as of Thursday.

The Lock Fire has affected residents in the Dillion, St. George's Hill and Michel Village areas, with 58 people forced to leave their homes.

Joan Hrycyk, director of emergency and crisis support for Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, said the evacuees have been placed in North Battleford and Lloydminster.

The safety agency is working with the communities and Meadow Lake Tribal Council to provide emergency accommodation at hotels, food and other necessities for evacuees.

Other fires of concern include the GMB01 Fire near Grandmother's Bay, with an estimated size of 1,510 hectares, the Mule Fire near Stanley Mission, with an estimated size of 380 acres, the Stollard Fire near Stoney Rapids and Black Lake, with an estimated size of 2,260 hectares, and the Klyne Fire near Southend, with an estimated size of 500 hectares.

In addition to the impact on northern communities, the fires also have a close proximity to several highways in the north. Highway 102 is closed between Stanley Mission and Southend due to wildfires and low visibility due to smoke.

The public safety agency recommends checking the Highway Hotline for any closures and updates.

Fire risk remains high to extremely high in most of the province, with extreme heat expected to last well into next week. A fire ban remains in place for the days ahead.

A smoke advisory also remains in effect throughout the province due to wildfires raging throughout Western Canada.

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