The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) has provided an update on the wildfire situation in northern Saskatchewan.
Monday afternoon SPSA made officials available who were able to speak about the current operations which are underway to combat a number of wildfires in the north. According to the SPSA as of Monday afternoon Saskatchewan had 35 wildfire burning within its boundaries with eight of those fires classified as not being contained.
Bryan Chartrand, the executive director of land operations for the SPSA explained the agency has a large number of people and equipment working to deal with both the Shaw and Vermette wildfires. Speaking on the Shaw Fire, which has forced many people out of Buffalo Narrows, Chartrand said the wildfire is proving challenging for firefighters.
“Right now the status of the fire is, it is uncontained and it’s burning quite aggressively right now and we are having difficulties at this point in time,” he said.
Specifically, Chartrand said the fire is burning quite intensely and giving off a lot of smoke which is making it more difficult to fight. Over 60 people were involved in fighting the fire as of Monday afternoon. Chartrand said much of their work currently involves doing what he called indirect attack on the fire, as it is not safe for firefighters to get close to the fire to directly attack it.
“We’re doing (bulldozer) lines and dropping retardant lines and working away from the fire in preparation of it advancing,” he said.
The SPSA said they are helping to provide support to over 90 people from Buffalo Narrow, along with the Meadow Lake Tribal Council (MLTC), who have been forced to evacuate their homes due to the fire. Speaking on when those people could possibly be able to return to their homes, Chartrand said this would likely be awhile off given the current weather forecast.
“I don’t have an answer, but I wouldn’t assume its going to be in the near future, at least a week out, just a rough number, maybe longer,” he said.