UPDATE - (July 2, 2015. 4:20pm) - Closed Highway #2 south of Jct. Highway #165 (Pinehouse jct). Starting convoy operations on hwy 2 both North and South Traffic.
Chief Tammy Cook Searson - Lac La Ronge Indian Band.
UPDATE - (July 2, 2015. 3:58pm) - Closed Highway #102 North of the La Ronge Airport and north at Sucker River. Eli Fire north of La Ronge is flaring up at the north end of highway #2. Closed until further notice.
Chief Tammy Cook Searson - Lac La Ronge Indian Band
UPDATE - (July 2, 2015. 2:47pm) - Highway #2 is closed. Department of Highways has advised Highway #2 north is closed at the Jct of Highway #165 road to Pinehouse and closed at south Highway #2 at Weyakwin. The fire crossing the Road.
Chief Tammy Cook Searson - Lac La Ronge Indian Band
Evacuation centres around the province are filling up as the number of people who have had to flee their homes because of forest fires continues to rise.
So far, that number is more than 5,000 and growing. A total of 55 communities have been affected.
The number of fires is 116 and 35 of them are still out of control and threatening nearby communities.
The two biggest hotspots are in the La Ronge area and near La Loche. The biggest fire is just 12 km north of La Ronge. It is now more than 580 square kilometers.
Daryl Jessop, the director of wildfire support services, says while the fire is getting bigger it is not a threat to the town of La Ronge.
"With all things being equal, that is certainly what our goal is," he says. "At this time with all the action we have taken on it, we feel reasonably confident that we are going to be able to hold it."
Jessop says more than 600 people are on the fire lines with reinforcements being brought in from Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and South Dakota.
He says the additional manpower and a change in the weather has helped firefighters in their efforts.
"So we are feeling good about that," he says. "We have been able to do a lot of work and protect all of the communities and we feel we are starting to move forward on these fires now."
At least one home in a community southwest of La Ronge was destroyed. A number of isolated cabins have also been burned, but a total number is not available.
Evacuation centres in North Battleford, Prince Albert, two in Saskatoon and one in Regina are now full. Karri Kempf, an emergency services manager with Social Services, says officials are now looking at options to accommodate more evacuees if necessary.
"Our contingeny space in Regina is O’Neill High School but we have no intention of opening that unless the numbers require it," she says. "So it is just at the ready, so we are prepared."
The Red Cross is doing its best to staff the shelters, keep the evacuees comfortable, provide food shelter and even activities. There is a call for donations of both clothing and money.
The Salvation Army is accepting clothing donations on behalf of the Red Cross. The donations will then be distributed to the shelters.
Officials cannot predict how long it will be before people are allowed to return home. It all depends on the weather. Most are expecting to be away for at least two weeks.
Meanwhile, Highway 102 north of La Ronge has been re-opened to essential local traffic.
It had been shut down last night when a fire near the Neimeben access flared up.
Crews have since worked on the fire, but conditions can change quickly.
Any non-essential travel in the north is still not recommended.
Meantime, La Ronge Mayor Thomas Sierzycki says at last report the Egg fire was still about 12 km from La Ronge.
Crews report making good progress on the fire yesterday.
The mayor says one of the problems reported by provincial officials is that people have been driving into remote areas near fires to take photos and videos.
"People are taking off into areas to take pictures," he says. "That's preventing firefighters from doing their work, it's preventing water bombers from doing drops. Those things are things we don't need right now. Please stay away from that area. Look at the pictures that the government is releasing in terms of your curiosity. Just stay away until the time comes that you should be there."
Meanwhile, Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson says a number of calls have been received from people wanting to return home.
"I did seek advice from our medical health officer, so we do have the evacuation order in effect for the people affected by smoke," she says. "So it was a good thing that we didn't move people back too soon because it is very smoky in La Ronge again and the area."
Cook-Searson says anyone with concerns about the smoke and evacuation situation can call Kyla McKenzie at 425-7984.
Meantime, SaskPower crews are out in the Pinehouse area this afternoon to make repairs.
Jonathan Trembly says the power has been turned off so crews can fix burnt power poles.
"Roughly, we're looking at three hours -- from 1 pm to 4 pm, or so," he says. "Maybe 1 pm to 3 pm if the damage is as we see it. But we never know, it could take a bit longer."
Trembly says SaskPower crews can reach the area around Pinehouse safely.
Meanwhile, The Prince Albert Grand Council has set up an emergency command centre.
The goal is to provide services and logistical supports to northern First Nations people who have been evacuated to Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina.
"This as happened quite a few times in regards to evacuations, so we have to be inclusive with everybody as to what is happening in our communities," said PAGC Grand Chief. "So the Prince Albert Grand Council will be organizing this emergency centre."
The PAGC is also looking for donations of items like blankets, diapers, shampoo, deodorant and summer clothing.
They can be dropped off at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre in Prince Albert.
Several fundraisers are also planned.
On Tuesday, over $1,000 and three truckloads of clothing were brought in at a fundraiser in Saskatoon.
A few more fundraisers are scheduled to take place this weekend in Regina and Prince Albert and details can be found at the PAGC website.
PAGC executive members wanted to thank all the volunteers and communities for their continued efforts.