Fire near Jan Lake. Photo courtesy of Vanessa Lynn Linklater McCallum.

The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation has imposed a curfew in the northern community of Pelican Narrows, and more RCMP members are being brought in to protect property from vandalism and looting following a mandatory evacuation.

More than 1,000 residents remain behind, but upwards of 2,500 have left in the wake of three large forest fires, which have shut down the main access roads and covered the community with heavy smoke.

The Executive Director of Emergency Management, Duane Mckay, says more officers have arrived over the past couple of days.

“To ensure that once properties are left by evacuees, they will be protected,” he said. “Typically, we see not just the RCMP doing this, but members of the community also taking on a kind of neighborhood patrol type of activity.”

Mckay says emergency workers will also tend to the pets that have been left behind. The curfew is in effect from 9:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. It was imposed yesterday. In a Facebook notice filed by the band’s Vice Chief Harold Linklater, it says:

“This curfew is in effect from 9:00 p.m. – 7:00 a.m. until the Evacuation Order is expired. Any persons caught after these hours will be detained if they are not part of Essential Services. Further, children and youth who are walking around after the curfew hours will be taken home, and if they do not have parents/guardians will be apprehended and detained by the RCMP. They will be evacuated as per the General Evacuation Order.”

An update on the fire situation is expected later this morning. There are three fires burning in the area.

The Granite Fire, southwest of Pelican Narrows, is now more than 600 square kilometres in size. The Preston Fire, north of Pelican Narrows, is about 200 square kilometres. A third fire, southwest of Pelican Narrows, is about 62 square kilometres.

All three fires are not contained. The long range forecast calls for cooler temperatures, but no significant rainfall for the foreseeable future. More than 140 firefighters are battling the flames, protecting property and infrastructure.