Update 12:35 May 18.
It could be at least another week before evacuated residents in Northern Saskatchewan return home. Wildfires have forced people to seek refuge in North Battleford, Lloydminster and Regina.
Approximately 1100 people are being supported through the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency. Several highways remain closed.
Fire officials say good progress has been made on a fire southwest of Dillon, while crews continue to fight a blaze southeast of that community.
Rain is not forecasted for the next week, but cooler and cloudy conditions are. A fire ban remains in effect.
The Saskatchewan government has activated its provincial command, as firefighters battle several wildfires in the North.
The Provincial Emergency Operations Centre is meant to provide a central point to coordinate operational response for provincial ministries.
The “VERMETTE” fire southwest of Dillon is currently 45,000 hectares, while the “SHAW” fire, southeast of Dillon is approximately 78,000. Type 1 Crew Members, Type 2 Crews, Heavy Equipment, Helicopter Support, Air Tanker Support are dispatched to both fires.
Evacuees from the northwest are in Lloydminster, North Battleford and Regina. Dillon, St. George’s Hill, Michel Village, English River, Buffalo Narrows and Patuanak are the communities currently evacuated. Highways 925, 155, 194 and 165 are closed due to the fire activity. The SPSA said it is assisting approximately 325 residents with food, clothing, shelter and other needs, with the assistance of other agencies.
The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is ensuring food and fuel remains accessible to northern communities by escorting delivery trucks on roads and highways that are currently closed due to fire.
“Currently none of the fires are a direct threat to those communities. The winds have been supportive in pushing the fire away from those communities. Smoke is still a major issue,” SPSA President and Fire Commissioner Marlo Pritchard said.
A fire ban is currently in effect for the entire region, which also includes provincial parks, suggesting campfires and fireworks will be prohibited this weekend.
In an effort to increase communication with Northerners and evacuees, an information hotline is being activated today. That line is 1-855-559-5502 and will be staffed seven-days a week from 8AM to 8PM.
(Wildfire near Dillon. Courtesy of Lois Tatro Facebook.)