Situation very critical as crews battle northern Sask. wildfires
SASKATOON – Canadian Armed Forces personnel are on the way to help fight wildfires in Saskatchewan. Emergency management officials say 600 members of the Armed Forces will arrive in Prince Albert to help with forest firefighting efforts in northern Saskatchewan.
Another 600 are expected over the next 24 hours to help out with a situation that officials say is still very critical.
Strong winds in the forecast have the capacity to turn the fire situation in La Ronge into a natural disaster Tuesday. Winds could push the fire directly toward the town in a situation similar to July 4 when the community was evacuated.
One wildfire of particular concern is the “Egg” fire near La Ronge. According to an update from the town’s mayor, Thomas Sierzycki, on Monday morning, the fire is past the airport and another flank is four kilometres northwest of the community.
“There is a serious threat to the Town of La Ronge,” he said in a tweet.
Provincial emergency management officials said fire did run into a natural barrier which helped slow its progress. No structures have been lost in La Ronge but one north of the town was destroyed.
As of Monday morning, there were 113 active wildfires in the province with 25 not contained. Seven fires have been declared out over the last 24 hours with nine new fires reported.
More than 540 firefighters are on the ground and fire departments from around Saskatchewan had deployed crews to assist.
The Saskatoon Fire Department has now sent 15 firefighters, one fire engine, one water truck, and one bush truck to La Ronge to help protect the town’s industrial area from wildfires.
Crews are working 12 hour shifts as they monitor the area and more staff will be sent up on a rotational basis. The City of Saskatoon has also offered to send two more water trucks from the public works division, if needed.
Firefighters from Warman, Humboldt, Prince Albert, Nipawin and the Muskoday First Nation have also deployed to La Ronge to help protect the community.
Also coming to assist with fighting the wildfires is an S-64 Air Crane helicopter from Montana. It is one of the largest firefighting helicopters in North America, able to work in lower visibility and can drop over 1,000 gallons of material with better accuracy than water tankers.
Thousands of people from 51 communities have been evacuated, with the most recent evacuees being sent to Cold Lake, Alta. Over 7,000 have registered with social services.
“This is the largest evacuation in the history of the province,” said Premier Brad Wall to reporters in Regina.
“Well over 10,000 we know are evacuated.”
Most of Saskatchewan remains under an air quality statement, with visibility reduced to less than three kilometres in many areas with poor air quality due to smoke.
WATCH: Premier Brad Wall speaks to the media Monday afternoon about the ongoing wildfire response and the support of the Canadian Armed Forces
With files from Global’s Wendy Winiewski, Joel Senick and The Canadian Press
Stay connected with Global News for the latest developments in the wildfire situation across Saskatchewan
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