As Pinehouse evacuees return home on Wednesday, the province is working hard to make sure other communities follow suit.
Wildfires continue to rage in Saskatchewan’s north. Three fires were declared out in the last 24 hours while three new fires have started. There are still 126 fires burning with only a small portion of those contained.
“It’s not as simple, when we are talking about repatriation, as saying everyone can go home. There is a great deal of coordination required,” Colin King, deputy commissioner and director of operations for emergency management and fire safety of Government Relations, said.
King said the province is meeting with several other communities to make sure they meet the criteria to go home.
Rain helping efforts
The current fires have not spread because of the recent rainfall. Air tankers and helicopters are working full force because smoke is not an issue.
More lightning is expected on Wednesday. If it occurs in areas that did not receive rain, such as La Ronge, there is a threat for new fires to start.
However, there is a fire threat to Stanley Mission church, which is the oldest standing building in Saskatchewan. A fire crew is currently working to save the church, which was built between 1854 and 1860.
Another seven structures are confirmed burned since Tuesday in the rural area of La Ronge. Those owners have been contacted.
There has been a total of 93 structures burned since the fires started this year.
There are 1,756 firefighters working up north, including 210 from the Saskatchewan government, 380 from northern First Nations, 450 type three (fire line/low risk), 116 out-of-province and 600 military.
Approximately 200 evacuees in two buses will be moving from Evraz Place in Regina to Saskatoon. They will be moved to existing shelters at Henk Ruys and Sasktel soccer centres.
There are approximately 10,460 evacuees receiving social assistance, including 316 in North Battleford, 4,806 in Prince Albert, 3,269 in Saskatoon, 1,272 in Regina and 798 in Cold Lake.
Cold Lake evacuees are well settled. Most of them are from the Lac La Ronge area and there is no current plan by social services to move them.
“It’s important to respect the role of the northern community leaders. They are partners in this event and they have their own emergency network and communication networks in place,” Karri Kempf with Social Services said.
Montreal Lake is in a process to return home.
“There are times when community members make decisions to post information. Sometimes it concurs with the planning we are doing. Sometimes it’s just a readiness and over anxiousness to get there,” she said in response to a poster suggesting Montreal Lake evacuees will go home Thursday.
Update from Lac La Ronge Chief Tammy Cook-Searson as of 8 a.m. Wednesday:
Hall Lake, Clam Lake and Sikachu Lake
– general evacuation order remains in effect.
– still direct threat to community
– no other homes have been lost since one in Sikachu Lake in early June
– only essential service personnel are in community
– Stowers fire is about 5-6 kilometres from Hall Lake and 37 kms southwest of La Ronge (9 square kms) and not contained.
Lac La Ronge Indian Band, La Ronge, Air Ronge and area
- Mandatory evacuation order still in effect
- Still direct threat to community from Egg fire (which is 1.5 kms from La Ronge)
- Egg fire is 963 square kms and not contained
- Areas impacted include La Ronge, Wadin Bay, Nemeiben Lake, Sucker River, English Bay and Highway 102
- Only essential services personnel are in the communities
- General evacuation order still in effect
- Still direct threat to community from Egg fire
- No homes have been lost
- Only essential service personnel in community
- General evacuation order lifted July 11
- Evacuation order for those affected by smoke remains (prenatal, elderly, have a child under 2 or have chronic health problems)
- Brian fire is 8 kms northwest of community (189 square kms) and not contained
- Dickens Lake, Grandmother’s Bay and Hailstone Lake are at risk
- Monitoring Marcus fire which is about 4 kms south of Grandmother’s Bay
- Crews are working on southeast side of Highway 102 to maintain that line
- No homes have been lost
- Evacuation order remains in effect for people affected by smoke
- Lynx fire is 22 kms southwest of community. It has crossed Highway 165 at Lynx Creek and moved southwest toward Highway 102.
- The fire is 300 metres away from Highway 102 at the 38 km mark and crews are working to contain it.
- Cog fire is approximately 8.5 kms downriver from Stanley Mission. No immediate threat to community.
- Sprinkler systems have been put on the Stanley Mission church to protect it.
- No homes have been lost
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Convair 580A working on Egg fire near La Ronge
FIRE SITUATION UPDATE (JULY 15, AM)There are currently 125 active fires. The total for this year is 642 fires to date compared to 248 last year.Rain fell across most of northern Saskatchewan yesterday. Areas around La Ronge received up to 5 mm of rain. Some areas in the west got up to 40 mm of rain. We're expecting continued light rain for some areas in the north, which helps fires from spreading but doesn't put the fires out. There are still many large active fires and the work continues.We now have 1700 personnel fighting the fires on the front lines. There may be possible smoke issues near La Ronge and Stanley Mission but tankers and aircraft should be up everywhere today.The Philion fire is still being worked on from the edge of Weyakwin community. The Mack and Brady fires merged and the west flank will be of concern as it could burn towards La Loche. Value protections are in place at the Stanley Mission Church to protect it from the Cog fire. The fire south of of Montreal lake is a priority.A number of Pinehouse evacuees will be going home today with the exception of those with health priorities. Evacuees at the Regina shelter are moving to the Saskatoon shelter to reunite communities and to get people closer to the north as repatriation efforts continue. There are more announcements of evacuation orders to come as threats diminish. We are working with communities on repatriation efforts and want to announce rescinded evacuation orders in a measured and deliberate way. Stay tuned or contact your local authority for more information on evacuation orders.Remember, in order for an evacuation to be fully lifted, a number of criteria must be met: no wildfire/smoke risk to community, medical services available, safe water, power, telephone, sewer, gas, 911 service and local authority present. For more info on the criteria, see our update from yesterday: https://www.facebook.com/SKGov/videos/1017975908220810/Today's video is of a Convair 580A setting up a control line by dropping flame retardant to support a back burn (precautionary fire set downwind of main fire for controlled fuel) on the Egg fire near La Ronge.For more specific fire info, visit: www.environment.gov.sk.ca/fire or call the Wildfire Client Service Office at 1-800-567-4224.Most of Saskatchewan’s Provincial Parks are open. There are some closures in the north and fire bans to note but many are out enjoying our beautiful parks. For more info: www.saskparks.netHighways and roads across the north are open and closed intermittently depending on smoke and wildfire conditions, visit: www.saskatchewan.ca/highwayhotlineFor smoke and air quality updates, visit: www.Firesmoke.caRed Cross Inquiry Line for evacuees or family members of evacuees: 1-888-953-3463.
Posted by Government of Saskatchewan on Wednesday, July 15, 2015