First of 2,000 Ontario wildfire evacuees arrive in Saskatchewan

WATCH: Around 2,000 people fleeing wildfires in northwest Ontario are being evacuated to Saskatchewan.

Around 400 people fleeing wildfires raging in northwest Ontario arrived in Regina on Thursday from the Pikangikum First Nation.

The first of eight planned military-chartered flights arrived at Regina International Airport at around 10:30 a.m.

READ MORE: Forest fire threatening Pikangikum First Nation grows as evacuation continues

The passengers were transported on arrival to the University of Regina, where the Red Cross and Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Social Services are arranging dorm rooms to be used for accommodation. The ministry says they have also secured around 150 hotel rooms.

“They’re tired and happy to have a bottle of water,” said Canadian Red Cross Saskatchewan vice-president Cindy Fuchs after meeting a few of the evacuees Thursday afternoon.

“Then, on the other hand, they seem to be quite quiet and accepting that this is going to their home for the next few days.”

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Once arranged accommodation in Regina reaches capacity, evacuees will be transported to Saskatoon and then Prince Albert, although details for those sites haven’t yet been announced.

The announcement that Saskatchewan would shelter around 2,000 wildfire evacuees was made Wednesday at the Council of the Federation premiers’ meetings in Saskatoon. An agreement was made between Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Ontario’s Doug Ford.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan to take in 2,000 Ontario wildfire evacuees

The fires, which are raging near the Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario, have grown to more than 507 square kilometres according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

In a teleconference Thursday morning, Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services coordinator Deanna Valentine said Ojibway translators will be on-site at the university.

She said the ministry and Red Cross will bear the upfront cost of the evacuations. Bill backs to the Ontario and federal governments will be looked into at a later time.