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Wildfire prompts state of emergency in Biggar, Sask. area

Click to play video: 'Wildfire prompts state of emergency in Biggar, Sask. area' Wildfire prompts state of emergency in Biggar, Sask. area
WATCH ABOVE: A wildfire in the RM of Biggar on Monday led to a state of emergency in effect for Tuesday – Apr 23, 2019

The Town of Biggar and RM of Biggar declared a state of emergency as a 15 square-kilometre wildfire continues to burn in the area.

Duane McKay, the province’s commissioner of emergency management and fire safety, said Tuesday morning the fire is three-quarters contained.

McKay warned that could change due to winds.

READ MORE: Total fire ban issued for RM of Corman Park

Smoke and poor air quality prompted the advisory, according to the Saskatchewan government. Emergency services are asking people to avoid Highway 51, Triumph Road and the surrounding areas.

The bulletin tells residents to be prepared to leave the area if instructed.

The Biggar Health Centre, including the hospital and long-term care facility, was evacuated as a precaution, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News
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A brush fire burning out of control near Biggar, Sask., on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. Ryan Kessler / Global News

Eight acute care patients and 53 long-term care residents were taken to alternate beds in the Rosetown and Saskatoon City hospitals. The Biggar emergency department remains open.

The Biggar Fire Department has 22 volunteer firefighters. Members started fighting the blaze around 12:30 p.m. Monday, leaving them “dead tired” by Tuesday, according to RM of Biggar reeve Jeanne-Marie de Moissac.

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Firefighters from Delisle, Rosetown, Asquith, Perdue, and other communities were on standby, de Moissac said, adding the rural municipality has never seen a fire of this magnitude.

“Whatever we need, they’re willing just to help us out,” de Moissac said.

Fire crews also received help from local farmers using heavy equipment to move earth to try to keep flames at bay.

“Local Hutterite colonies – not only have they supplied manpower and equipment, but thousands of sandwiches for the firefighters,” she said, tearing up.

Around 5:30 p.m. Monday, RCMP said members were on-scene focusing efforts on helping an undisclosed number of people evacuate and controlling traffic.

READ MORE: Brush fire burns for hours northwest of Saskatoon

Police said Monday that the fire was burning between Highway 4 and Highway 51, along with Tower Road and Duperow Road.

There have been no reports of structure loses or injuries.

McKay said crews in a plane hope to determine where the fire started so they can determine a cause.

Biggar is roughly 90 kilometres west of Saskatoon.

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