Residents from a northern Sask. community are on their way home after a wildfire evacuation order was lifted Monday.
Provincial officials said the threat to road access for the town of Southend had diminished, along with smoky conditions caused by the Woods fire.
Just under 900 people had been forced out of their homes on June 19 as the blaze grew and blew smoke and ash into the community located 200 kilometres northeast of La Ronge.
Deanna Valentine, coordinator for emergency social services for the province, said they were working with leaders in Southend to set up a “clean air shelter” for those with breathing difficulties, in case the smoke returned.
In the meantime, residents with priority health issues are being held back in La Ronge, Prince Albert and Saskatoon.
The Woods fire has now burned about 93 square kilometres of land and forest near Southend and continues to be out of control. However, wildfire management said crews assisted by rain had been able to contain the northern flank of the fire — limiting the risk to the community.
In addition to the large blaze, provincial firefighters are also contending with 53 other fires that have been sparked in the past week.
Ten of the fires are classified as “not contained,” — or out of control.
“We had some lightning over the past 24 hours that led to 14 new starts,” said Scott Wasylenchuk, director of wildfire operations.
So far in 2018, Saskatchewan is above its five-year average for wildfires to-date with 311 in total since spring. The average by June 26 is normally 232.