Firefighters continue to battle a blaze just outside Prince Albert.
The Cloverdale Fire erupted Monday afternoon about four kilometres northeast of the city and is currently classified as uncontained.
The blaze is about 3,700 hectares in size and roughly 28 local evacuees are being housed in hotels in Prince Albert.
A local state of emergency has been declared which includes Prince Albert and the rural municipalities of Buckland and Garden River.
Highway 55 east is closed at the Prince Albert off-ramp and the Pulp Haul Road from Whitestar Road to the Highway 55 junction is also closed.
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, with the assistance of Prince Albert and Rural Municipality of Buckland fire departments, continues to fight the fire with helicopters, ground crews, multiple air tanker groups and heavy equipment.
So far, no residential infrastructure has been damaged by the fire.
Steve Roberts is the vice-president of operations with SPSA.
He said dry conditions, warm weather and high winds continue to pose challenges for firefighters.
“We will continue today even though our weather will not be favourable,” Roberts said. “We are going to look at temperatures in the high 20’s (degrees Celsius), 20 to 40 kilometre per hour winds…”
The fire has also left about 9,000 homes in northern Saskatchewan without power.
SaskPower spokesperson Joel Cherry said it is difficult to put a timeline on when electricity will be restored because of the significant amount of damage to infrastructure.
“We were able to get in and patrol the lines this morning by helicopter, once visibility conditions allowed, and found ten damaged transmission structures, several of which were burned right to the ground,” he said. “There is going to be significant repairs required there and the fire remains active so there are logistic and safety challenges for getting in there to conduct these repairs.”
Roberts said they are hopeful changing weather conditions in the coming days will make it easier for firefighters to control the blaze.
“Overnight conditions and lower temperatures will help (control) this fire and let ground crews get a better handle on it. Most of the activity was heat-related and wind-related so as we get past that it will allow us to get some good active guards and some containment on this fire as well.”
Local officials are urging all residents who may have evacuated their homes because of the fire to register with the City of Prince Albert.
“What that does is provide lines of communication outreach between the EOC (emergency operations centre) and Prince Albert and those evacuees,” Prince Albert Fire Chief Kris Olsen said. “And I know communication is key in situations like this. People feel updated, they feel they’re informed and they feel like they’re in the know. So please phone in.”
Evacuees can register with the city by phoning the Margo Fournier Centre at (306) 953-4816.
(PHOTO: The Cloverdale Fire. Photo by Travis Waldner.)