With the threat of another bad season for wildfires, provincial officials are advising residents to be prepared and to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.
This is Emergency Preparedness Week, and the government is encouraging all Saskatchewan residents to put together a basic emergency kit that will last at least 72 hours.
Water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, batteries, a radio, a first-aid kit and your prescriptions should be in the kit. Another piece of advice is to make sure you have copies of your health cards and other identification including photos of family in case you get separated during an evacuation.
The province’s fire commissioner Duane McKay, says the forest fire threat is already extreme in many areas of the province.
“That new weather pattern that we see coming over will certainly bring with it hot, dry weather with temperatures in the high twenties or low thirties and very low humidity, “ he said. “That puts us into what we refer to as a ‘crossover situation,’ where things are extremely volatile.
Last year, fires forced the evacuation of more than 13,000 people from their homes - it was the largest evacuation in the provinces history.
McKay says being prepared is critical.
“We did bring our wildfire crews in a little early; aircraft were up and flying. In fact yesterday they were in the Neudorf area dropping fire retardant,” he said. “So we are a lot more coordinated and we have learned a lot from last year.”
Last there were more than 700 wildfires in the province. Currently there are 12 burning, but only two are listed as out of control. So far this year there have been 96 fires compared to 75 for the same period last year.
An open fire ban is in effect for many areas of the province already because of the tinder-dry conditions. It is up to local municipalities and First Nations to declare the fire bans.