The wildfire season in Saskatchewan is off and running, albeit a slower start due to a cooler spring. Already in the early season, there are 13 forest fires burning across the province, with five in the North. 12 out of 13 fires are contained. Officials with the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency said all fires this season are human caused.

As for provincial readiness, the SPSA said 90 percent of last year’s workforce has been rehired. Those crews are trained and ready to be deployed if needed. Operations Director Steve Roberts said there are enough staff hired to operate a fleet of seven birddogs to support aerial suppression of fires. Last year a shortage of plots forced Saskatchewan to contract crews from Manitoba to assist in extinguishing a blaze near Stanley Mission, which resulted in the temporary evacuation of that northern community in June.

The spring forecast for the north is calling for cooler-than-average temperatures in the northeast and average in the northwest. Precipitation is expected to be near-normal for most regions. The SPSA is predicting a dryer and warmer summer in the north.