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Wildfires continue to choke Saskatchewan; air quality statements continue

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.

Smoke creates a yellow, hazy effect at Candle Lake, Saskatchewan. More than 100 fires are raging in the province. Newzulu. All rights reserved

READ MORE: Manitoba skies darkened by smoke from Saskatchewan fires

The smoke from the fires has reduced visibility to two kilometres.

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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.

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Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment
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Government of Saskatchewan orders La Ronge, Air Ronge, Lac La Ronge Indian Band evacuated due to wildfires. Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment
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Saskatchewan wildfires in pictures as taken by Corey Hardcastle with the Sask. Ministry of Environment. Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment
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A wildfire is posing a direct threat to Pinehouse, Sask. while two fires near La Ronge have merged into one wildfire. Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment
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A massive plume of smoke rises from a wildfire in the La Ronge, Sask., . Supplied / Sask. Ministry of Environment

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.

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But the situation is looking up, particularly compared to last week during a heat wave.

“Fires at that time were burning ferociously and out of control. With all the work we’ve done since that time, it’s [improved].”

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.

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