A community in northern Saskatchewan is evacuating some of its most vulnerable residents due to wildfires.
Pelican Narrows, located about six-and-a-half hours’ drive northeast of Saskatoon, is home to just under 3,000 people.
The community has been affected by smoke from nearby blazes through the summer.
On Tuesday, Environment Canada issued an air quality statement for the area, noting forest fire smoke could pose a problem for young children, the elderly and those with breathing conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Up until Tuesday, Pelican Narrows had been providing locations with scrubbed air for those with breathing issues.
However, with wildfires threatening to cut off nearby roadways, the community sent as many as 500 people to Saskatoon Tuesday.
They’re being housed at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre.
According to Ministry of Social Services Provincial Coordinator Deanna Valentine, three soccer pitches will have rows of beds while one pitch will be left for tables where people can eat and get personal supplies like shampoo and tooth brushes.
“It takes awhile, probably a good six to eight hours to get this set up and ready to receive people,” she told reporters Tuesday.
If more people need to leave the community the soccer centre can accommodate up to 650 people.
For now, only people with medical concerns and their families or caretakers were evacuated.
The province’s Highway Hotline was reporting that forest fires were expected to impact the area around the junction of Highway 106 and Highway 135, which provides access to Pelican Narrows.