Last Update:  Sun Jul 28, 2013 – 12:00 pm

About 200 residents of the northern Saskatchewan settlement of Fond du Lac, previously identified as high risk to smoke inhalation, including those with breathing problems, elders, pregnant mothers, infants & others with serious illness, were airlifted out Saturday due to heavy smoke billowing into the community caused by a fire burning out of control.

A pair of Twin Otters, supplied by Transwest Airlines, evacuated those of concern to Stony Rapids where they transferred to flights bound for Prince Albert where once again hotels & businesses have extended their hospitality to those in need.

Saskatchewan Environment has been battling the Helmer fire, caused by a lightning strike, for a couple of weeks; with weather conditions over the past few days resulting in the fire flaring, growing & becoming increasingly dangerous to manage & combat.

A spokesperson with the Ministry says the fire covers about 5300 hectares, or approximately 50 square kilometers, and is burning along the Lake Athabasca shoreline, across the water from the community of 800 – 1000 people.  As temperatures drop at night, the smoke smothers the small community like a blanket.

SE has a representative in the community, as well as crews, equipment & aircraft managing the blaze.  Extreme caution is being observed & taken as the fire is considered to be dangerously hot & unpredictable.  As an added precaution, sprinklers have been set up to protect valuable assets in the area.

There is no immediate threat from the fire itself, and no plans right now to evacuate any more residents.

Officials are continuing to monitor & assess the situation on an hour by hour basis.

As well, all potential Northern Hot Zones are being reviewed & addressed

For more information on the Fond du Lac evacuation.

In Fond du Lac call Victor Fern 306-686-2003 / 686-2076
In Prince Albert call Willy John Laurent 306-961-0566