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Piapot First Nation residents without water after treatment plant burns down

WATCH VIDEO: The water treatment plant in Piapot First Nation was completely lost in a fire that broke out late Monday night, leaving many residents without water.

Many residents on Piapot First Nation woke up without water Tuesday morning, after a treatment plant was completely lost in a fire that broke out late Monday night.

“The water plant was on fire and I went to bed for about 10 minutes and what woke me up was a big explosion,” said Piapot resident Keeka Kaiwatum.

Alarms could be heard throughout the community, beginning at around 11:30 p.m., with smoke billowing from the town’s only water source.

Now, there’s nothing left.

“Our water treatment plant operator responded to the alarm [and] when the operator got there, the building was full of smoke and getting to the point of being uncontrollable,” Piapot councillor Ira Lavallee said.

The fire left many residents fending for themselves.

“We couldn’t even wash up this morning. We had to go to Muscowpetung for water,” said Piapot resident Joan Kaiwatum. “So no drinking water yet.”

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About 230 homes are affected, 17 of which were directly hooked up to the plant.

READ MORE: Students from Piapot First Nation win award for showing dangers of drinking and driving

The remaining homes rely on water cisterns. They have water now, but when those tanks run out, there is no way to refill them.

“Conserve the best way you can. We are working on a plan to deliver drinkable, potable water to those who need it,” Lavallee said.

Many of the community buildings were also affected, including Payepot School, which was closed for the day, as well as the band office and the community hall.

Lavallee said council is working on setting up a mobile water treatment plant, but that could take up to three weeks to get in place.

READ MORE: Land-based learning links curriculum with Indigenous culture

There have also been talks about rebuilding the plant, but again, construction would take up to 18 months.

Council said they do not have any agreements with surrounding fire services, so when they called the Southey and Regina fire departments, they didn’t respond.

Instead, residents of Piapot sprang into action, working to contain the blaze.

While it’s a situation that council said they need to address, right now, residents are more concerned about their water supply.

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