We’re learning more about a forest fire near Fond Du Lac that has forced the evacuation of nearly 200 people.

Residents are currently staying at hotels in the city.

Some are wondering why the fire was allowed to burn for so long.

Steve Roberts of Saskatchewan says the blaze, called the Helmer Fire, actually began back on July 5th or 6th and was just 10 hectares in size.

He says crews began fighting it the very day it was spotted but the fire behaved aggressively and grew to 50 hectares within the first day.

Since then they’ve encountered hot, dry weather and crews have at times been pulled out due to the danger posed by the blaze.

He adds the fire is burning on the south side of the lake which makes it difficult to get out:

“Yeah it’s in a remote spot.  There’s no roads in the area. It’s all aircraft access.  There’s other fires in the area so one of our primary directives there is to protect the remote values on that side of the lake, so cabins and cottages.  We focus on those rather than the full extinguishment of the fires.”

The blaze is listed at fifty-three hundred hectares in size but Roberts says that number will likely grow.

He says the wind is starting to shift though and some rain could be on the way so hazard levels are dropping.

Helicopters at nearby Stony Rapids are helping crews on the ground while 580 Airtankers have been called in as well.

Roberts notes the order for the evacuation is ultimately made by local leadership, although they are there to provide advice along the way.