About 8,000 homes in northern Saskatchewan remain without power as of Thursday afternoon.
Communities such as La Ronge, Air Ronge, Stanley Mission and Montreal Lake have been without electricity since Monday due to a fire burning northeast of Prince Albert.
According to SaskPower, the Cloverdale Fire has destroyed 15 power pole structures causing the large-scale outages.
SaskPower crews have been working on the damaged infrastructure since Wednesday but corporation spokesperson Joel Cherry said they have run into some delays.
“We’ve experienced some equipment issues and we have had to contend with some extremely difficult boggy terrain around some of the structures and we’ve had some trac machines get stuck,” he said. “So, because of this we’ve had to adjust our estimated restore time to eight o’clock this (Thursday) evening. We have all the necessary equipment and materials on site. So, it’s just a matter of getting in there, getting the repairs done and getting that line re-energized.”
According to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, the fire is now contained and sits at about 5,580 hectares.
“Due to favourable weather and the efforts of the ground firefighting agencies that are involved, there was no growth of the fire in the past 24 hours,” SPSA Vice-President of Operations Steve Roberts said. “We should see province-wide favourable conditions for firefighting efforts – lower temperatures, lower winds and areas where we will see precipitation starting in the province.”
So far, the fire has not damaged any residential homes or businesses and SPSA says other damages appear to be minimal.
“Much of the agricultural land, even though it had fire on it, unless it had standing crops – for instance grazing land – there would not be large impacts,” Roberts said. “The other issue that we will look at is in addition to structures, it may be things like an out building, an old building, an old shed and old car that had been pushed into the timber around the facility. We will be looking at that in coming days. But no residential structure, no industrial operation or provincial infrastructure, besides the power lines, has been impacted by this fire.”
According to SPSA Director of Emergency and Crisis Support Joan Hrycyk, 40 evacuees are being supported by the agency in Prince Albert hotels, another 19 are registered in hotels and 19 are either staying with family and friends or have returned home.
According to a press release from the City of Prince Albert, Highway 55 will be re-opened to traffic at 5 p.m. Thursday with a speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour to allow for emergency personnel still working in the area.
(PHOTO: SaskPower crews work on transmission power pole structures damaged by the Cloverdale Fire. Photo courtesy SaskPower.)