The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) is reporting there are 21 wildfires burning in the province.
The agency provided the update on a media call late Friday morning. Of the 21 wildfires, five are classified as not being contained. Fire Commissioner and SPSA President Marlo Pritchard as well provided an update on the number of people who remain evacuated from their communities.
“The SPSA is continuing to support 52 people in LIoydminister from Buffalo Narrows and 131 people in North Battleford from Patuanak,” he said.
Pritchard said people who had been evacuated to Regina from Île-à-la-Crosse and Buffalo Narrows have been allowed to return home. It was as well explained that the decision in terms of when evacuated residents will be allowed to return home is up to local leadership.
On the call Pritchard was asked by a reporter about the compensation which has been made available to people who lost power due to the fires, more specifically if more compensation could be coming to help them replace the food they lost. Pritchard said the current amount of money being offered to those who lost power is substantial, however he did conceded the amount may not be enough for some.
“It’s $100 per resident, so it’s not necessarily, the households could potentially see quite a bit more than the $100, depending on how many children their is there,” he said.
The recent changes in weather conditions which have seen cooler temperatures and rains come to the province have been helpful for firefighters. Steve Roberts, the SPSA’s vice president of operations explained the cooler and wetter conditions have allowed firefighters to change up their tactics.
“We have had showers on some of these fires already, (the showers) have allowed the crews to switch from indirect to direct attack and put more resources on the line securing those critical boundaries that are near the communities,” he said.
Direct attacks on the fires have included getting people along with heavy equipment onto the fire line and backing them up with helicopter support, which will be helpful in getting the wildfires contained.
Roberts said firefighters have been successful when it comes to keeping wildfires out of communities, which has prevented large scale property destruction. However, he said the wildfires have still destroyed some property and damaged some public infrastructure.
“We have reported damage to some of the SaskPower infrastructure, which has been repaired this time by SaskPower, we do have some remote values, that for instance, cabins, small sheds, those things, that will have been impacted by fire,” he said.
(Top Photo courtesy of SPSA Facebook page.)