UPDATE – La Ronge Fire Situation Update (June 26/2015 PM)
-No fire threat to La Ronge at this time. Smoke may pose a risk in the near future. The situation is being monitored.
-The Town La Ronge is currently not under a State of Emergency. Things we consider when implementing an evacuation include speed, direction and resources of a threat. Proximity of the threat is also considered.
-English Bay, Sucker River and Wadin Bay are evacuated.
-Highway closures on 102 are possible. Currently open but may change at anytime.
-The Clarke and Egg fires are about 20km away from La Ronge. Wildfire management is monitoring these fires.
-We will continue to update residents as relevant information becomes available. As a municipal official I can only speak for the Town La Ronge, however we will pass on any information we have about the entire situation.
UPDATE – Statement from Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson (6:47 p.m., Friday, June 26):
We registered 338 people from Sucker River, only essential service people in the community and LLRIB Band security services is monitoring homes and buildings. People evacuated are in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and or with friends and family in La Ronge.
All people from Sikachu Lake and Clam Lake Bridge have returned home.
It is recommended that people on the chronic health list, Elders, Children Under 2 years old and expectant mom’s be on stand by due to the smoke. We are meeting tomorrow at 9 a.m. (June 27) for updates on the fire and smoke.
If you are concerned about your health, please contact the health line 811 or go to the outpatients at the hospital for assessment.
Highway 102 is still open but could close without notice.
We have closed the JRMCC as a receiving center but if you still need to register please contact Kyla McKenzie 306-425-7984.
Thank you everyone for your continued support and patience.
UPDATE Statement from Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson (4:44 p.m., Friday, June 26) – Highway 102 is open but can close without notice.
UPDATE (3:12 p.m., Friday, June 26) – Saskatchewan Highways has closed Highway 102 between Lamp Lake approach and Sucker River turnoff until further notice because of wildfire.
Tinder dry conditions have put the province on high alert and high anxiety as it battles some out of control forest fires in the La Ronge area. Evacuations have started for some nearby communities, while reinforcements are being brought in to fight fires. In total, about 1,000 people are expected to be displaced from their homes.
An emergency broadcast went out last night warning residents to be on standby and to get ready to evacuate if necessary. Today it is necessary. The province’s commissioner of emergency planning, Duane McKay, describes the situation as volatile. He says evacuation orders went out this morning to three additional communities.
“We are looking at some more evacuations,” he says. “So a complete evacuation recommendation was issued for Wadin Bay, English (Bay) and Sucker River and we are working closely with local officials to coordinate those efforts.”
Mandatory evacuations have also been ordered for Nemeiben Lake and English Bay.
The executive director of Wildfire Management, Steve Roberts, says a change in the weather has made a bad situation worse.
“In a six-hour period yesterday, we had 5,000 lightning strikes,” he says. “That has resulted in an additional 42 fires in the province. Those fires go from the east side right across to the north side and as far north as Fond du Lac.”
Social Services is coordinating the evacuation efforts. Its goal is to keep families and community members together. So far, less than 200 people have had to leave their homes — but that number will swell all day. Ministry spokesperson Karrie Kempfs says major evacuation centres will be set up in both Prince Albert and Saskatoon.
“We have opened a congregate shelter in Saskatoon at the Henk Ruys Centre. We are also preparing a congregate shelter in Prince Albert at Sask Polytech,” she says. “Right now, we have been able to house all the people in hotels so we have not had to open any of the shelters.”
There are currently 71 wildfires burning in the province. Saskatchewan Environment is calling in reinforcements from Quebec, Manitoba and other parts of Canada.
The big concern is the continued hot weather, which will result in late day thunderstorms and more lightning strikes.
Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson says the evacuation of one community is underway while conditions at another community have improved.
She says there was good news this morning for residents of Sikachu Lake and Clam Lake Bridge.
“We’ve been advised to lift the evacuation order,” she says. “So we’re making arrangements to return people back home, the ones that were in PA and also with friends and family in La Ronge. So we’re making those arrangements right now to get people back home.”
Cook-Searson says the general evacuation of Sucker River and Wadin Bay was announced this morning and is underway.
“We are receiving everyone at the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre, including residents from Wadin Bay and surrounding area. They can go to the JRMCC and we’ll make arrangements for transportation out. Stanley Mission is still on standby notice because of the smoke.”
The chief says she has also been informed that Highway 102 in the Nemeiben area could be closed, since the Eli fire is now estimated to be 1 km away from the highway.