More than 4,000 people have fled their homes as fires continue to ravage the northern half of the province.
The province’s Ministry of Environment said as of Wednesday, there were 110 wildfires and less than 10 are considered contained. The largest fires each cover around 10 square kilometres, nearly twice the size of the University of Saskatchewan.
The Ministry of Social Services said 4,143 people are under their care and have been evacuated to shelters, hotels, family and friends across the province. However, many more people may not be under the ministry’s care and are not counted in the total number of evacuees.
Of the evacuees, 1,550 are in Regina, 1,262 in Prince Albert, 919 in Saskatoon and 447 are in North Battleford.
At the Saskatoon Soccer Centre, children rode around on tricycles, played connect-four and drew on the parking lot sidewalk with chalk while their parents combed through donated clothes and passed the time by chatting and smoking.
Nora Lavallee- Roberts’ entire four-generation family was evacuated from La Ronge to the centre. She arrived on Sunday while her daughter, granddaughter and great grandson arrived Tuesday night. She said she has mixed emotions about having to evacuate.
“It is pretty hard on us. We don’t even know what’s going on with our other rest of the family that’s behind us, that stayed behind,” she said, adding social media has helped them stay in touch. “As long as I know where everybody is, I’m okay.”
She said her family was evacuated so quickly that she forgot her medication. She was able to receive a refill from medical staff at the shelter.
Children play with donated toys at the Kinsmen Kenk Ruys Soccer Centre. Lasia Kretzel/News Talk Radio
Lack of personal supplies is a common theme among evacuees. Montreal Lake resident John Henry Charles Jr. said all he grabbed was his wallet and one change of clothes.
“So it’s a good thing people are donating clothes here,” he said as he removed a suit jacket he picked up from a pile of clothes, toys and bedding brought to the Soccer Centre by the Salvation Army.
In Prince Albert, residents like Tracey Halkett and her two children are eagerly awaiting the all clear. Her parents lost their cabin to fire in the Besnard Lake area.
“They’re okay. As long as the people are safe, they’re okay because it’s just material stuff,” she said.
Prince Albert evacuation centres and hotels are completely full while Regina expects at least another 400 evacuees Wednesday.
“If anyone is traveling on their own, the best thing for them to do is contact their community leadership or someone in the health community,” social services manager of information and emergency services Karri Kempf said.
Kempf did not know exactly what would happen if Regina’s Credit Union Eventplex filled up, but said the ministry would expand space as required.
Kempf said the best thing people can do right now is welcome evacuees into their communities. She said if the ministry needs volunteers or donations they will put out a call.
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