Stanley Mission evacuees heading home with wildfire mostly contained

·3 min read
Firefighters work in the forest near Stanley Mission, Sask. (La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook - image credit)
Firefighters work in the forest near Stanley Mission, Sask. (La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook - image credit)

Some people from Stanley Mission, Sask., will be back to sleeping in their own beds Monday night.

The northern Saskatchewan community, located about 55 kilometres northeast of La Ronge, was evacuated last week due to an encroaching wildfire. Residents were moved by bus beginning Friday morning.

On social media Sunday evening, Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band said the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency considers the fire 80 per cent contained.

"Yesterday the air crew was able to go in there with infrared light with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency and assess the fire and look for any hotspots in the fire."

Cook-Searson said conditions have improved and people can start heading home.

La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook
La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook

As of Friday afternoon, four buses and many private vehicles filled with community members had left the area.

"We're evacuating the ones that want to go right away, so we're just evacuating as we go," Cook-Searson said at the time.

Cook-Searson says the fire burst open around 3:30 p.m. CST on June 3. Environment and Climate Change Canada triggered a special air quality statement the next day for La Ronge, Montreal Lake and Pinehouse, Sask. That air quality statement was lifted a full week later on Friday, June 10.

La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook
La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook

Due to extremely dry conditions, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) placed a fire ban in the area on June 1. SPSA declared in a statement Sunday that the fire ban had been lifted.

"La Ronge and area received 22.4 mm of precipitation over night, and more precipitation is forecasted in the coming days," the statement said.

The Weather Network is forecasting La Ronge and surrounding area to have showers on Monday and heavy rain projected on Tuesday, with 50 to 75 mm of rain expected in one day. The rain will continue into Wednesday, with an additional 20 to 25 mm of rain expected.

A post on the La Ronge Fire Department page Sunday night said residents from Stanley Mission will be able to begin returning home.

"Our department spent three days assisting wildfire crews who've been there from the beginning."

La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook
La Ronge Regional Fire Dept./Facebook

The fire department said containing the fire was a team effort expressed their thanks to everyone who helped.

Cook-Searson said Monday that, now that the fire is contained, her focus is now to work with SPSA to get more residents trained as firefighters.

"It's taken a while to certify them," she said.

Cook-Searson said getting more people out firefighting right away will help bring fires down faster.

Approximately four to five cabins were lost in the early days of the fire, but Cook-Searson said two important cultural camps were saved.

The buses began heading back up north and picking up people from their hotels in Saskatoon and Prince Albert Monday morning.

As of Monday there have been 136 wildfires in the province this year. The five year average is 130 fires at this point in the wildfire season.

Stanley Mission had to be evacuated last July due to similar wildfires.

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