Provincial officials say the threat of wildfires in northern Saskatchewan increased over the weekend.

The province is now battling uncontained fires near Grandmother’s Bay and along Highway 102 from La Ronge to Wollaston Lake.

This added to the fires already burning near Dillon, Michel Village, St. George’s Hill, Stony Rapids and Stanley Mission.

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency vice-president of operations Steve Roberts said recent dry weather throughout much of the north has increased the fire risk.

“Very little precipitation but it is delivering us lightning which is causing these new fire starts,” he said. “So, the fire ban will remain in place. We will look if there are opportunities to modify it but that would only be in the far northern part of the province.”

Highway 102 was closed for part of Sunday due to fire concerns.

The wildfires have also led to evacuations in a few northern communities including those near Dillon and Southend.

“We do have people evacuated due to the Lock Fire, which is located west of Dillon,” SPSA director of emergency and crisis support Joan Hrycek said. “The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is working with the community and Meadow Lake Tribal Council to provide emergency accommodation.”

Hrycek said about 31 evacuees from this fire are currently in North Battleford while others are staying in Lloydminster.

The Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation made the decision to evacuate Southend.

Evacuees from this fire are staying in Prince Albert.

The SPSA said there were 91 active fires in the province on Monday for a total of 312 to date.

This is 100 fires above the five-year average for this time of year.

(PHOTO: The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is currently fighting a number of wildfires in northern Saskatchewan. Photo courtesy SPSA Facebook page.)