Scattered precipitation and cooler temperatures over the weekend in the northern half of Saskatchewan assisted in the province’s wildfire situation, according to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).
However, despite the help from Mother Nature, hundreds of wildfires continue to rage on across the province. The SPSA admits it has not seen a summer with this number of fires in years.
On Monday morning, Steve Roberts, vice president of operations for the SPSA, announced there are 161 active wildfires. Saskatchewan has recorded 424 fires in total so far in 2021 — double the provincial average of 214.
“This is probably one of the highest counts (for fires) in the last 10 years,” Roberts said during a wildfire teleconference update on Monday. “I wouldn’t say it’s a record-breaking or historic year, but in the last 10 years, we haven’t seen the number of fires we are seeing right now.”
While it’s a sizeable amount, he said many of the fires are not very large in size compared to blazes firefighters responded to in 2015.
“We actually have more fires than we did in 2015, but the difference is the size of the area burned by the fires was much higher than what we are currently seeing,” Roberts said.
In general, 11 fires are currently threatening communities or highways.
“We continue to send our crews and resources to those as high priority fires,” Roberts said. “We have been able to hire an additional 150 local firefighters to work on these wildfires.”
Roberts said crews have been able to make headway on some fires in recent days. The White fire, which was a threat to Whelan Bay, east of Prince Albert National Park, is now listed as contained. The Forks fire, originally a threat to the community of Beauval, is also listed as contained.
In terms of evacuations, there are 84 evacuees in North Battleford. Twelve evacuees from the Whelan Bay area were being supported between Prince Albert and Nipawin, however, the order has since ended and the evacuated residents are being sent home Monday.
No additional evacuations happened this past weekend.