WATCH ABOVE: Wildfires have begun destroying buildings in northern Saskatchewan, while fire crews in Alberta warn the winds are about to pick up. Reid Fiest and Anthony Farnell have details on how people are being affected.
TORONTO – Canada Day brought no respite to fire-ravaged Saskatchewan.
There are currently 116 wildfires burning in the province, causing choking air quality conditions throughout. Environment Canada has issued an air quality statement for the entire province.
The fires aren’t only causing air quality concerns in Saskatchewan, but neighbouring Manitoba, where Environment Canada has also issued an air quality statement for most of the province.
The smoke from the fires has reduced visibility to two kilometres.
In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Daryl Jessop, director of internal support, Ministry of Environment told reporters that the weather has contributed to the fires.
“Hot, dry, windy weather has resulted in 100-plus wildfires in northern and central parts of the province,” Jessop said.
This has been a particularly active year for fires in Saskatchewan. To date there have been 525 fires that have burned more than 420,000 hectares; this time last year there were 192 fires that burned 20,976 hectares.
“We’re well above the average,” Jessop said.
The province is also receiving help from across the country: crews from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland are on hand. A fire crew from South Dakota is also assisting in Cypress Hills.
But the situation is looking up, particularly compared to last week during a heat wave.
As well, the weekend weather will bring rain which will help them battle back the fires they couldn’t fight with limited visibility this week.
The largest fire — which is actually the result of two fires merging — is burning about 58,000 hectares north of Prince Alberta.