Fire crews are performing a full assault on a wildfire southeast of Dillon, which forced some residents of the Buffalo River Dene Nation from their homes to seek refuge in Lloydminster.

The “SHAW” fire is currently 7200 hectares in size and is threatening Highway 925, the access road in and out of the First Nation.

Approximately 140 people, mainly Elders and young children and those with respiratory and chronic medical conditions are in hotels in Lloydminster, while 600 residents remain in their home community.

“They’re still in good spirits, but anguish with a lot of people not knowing what is going on back home,” said Chief Norma Catarat, speaking for the evacuees.

Air tankers, helicopters, heavy equipment and ground personnel are attacking the blaze. Crews are suppressing the northwest and west side of the wildfire. Dozers are also expected to assist.

Cataract said the fire is now approximately 30 percent contained and is three-kilometers from the highway.

Yet the threat to Highway 925 remains high, as Catarat explained thick smoke conditions will persist for the next few days. Buses are on standby in the event of a quick evacuation order.

For residents who did not evacuate, there are fresh air stations setup in the community to provide relief from the smoke.

The evacuees are expected to stay in Lloydminster for at least the remainder of the weekend.

(Photo of wildfire near La Ronge.)