Saskatchewan offers aid as 20,000 Yellowknife residents escape wildfire

Saskatchewan is offering accommodations to those escaping a wildfire headed for Yellowknife. Courtesy Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Northwest Territories

Yellowknife residents are evacuating the Northwest Territories as wildfires rage across the northern part of Canada, by car and plane.

Roughly 20,000 residents need to be out of the area by noon on Friday and Saskatchewan is offering shelter to those escaping the flames and smoke.

Premier Scott Moe took to social media Thursday morning, saying the province has offered assistance to the Northwest Territories.

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The Government of Saskatchewan sent out a statement later in the day, saying temporary accommodations will be provided if required, and support will be given to fight the wildfires.

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“Today, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) deployed an Incident Management Team (5 staff), two Agency representatives and 40 Type 1 wildland firefighters to support the wildfire efforts in Northwest Territories. The group left from the Prince Albert Airport this morning and is expected to be out of the province for approximately two weeks, but they can be called back to Saskatchewan at any time should the need arise,” read the statement.

“Currently, 16 Saskatchewan wildland firefighters are deployed in the Yukon to help local ground crews in their efforts to contain wildfires burning in the territory.”

The N.W.T. government has urged residents to stay with family or to find accommodations in Valleyview, Fox Creek or Red Deer, Alta., all more than 1,000 kilometres away.

At a press conference on Wednesday night, N.W.T Environment Minister Shane Thompson said guides are available to help navigate drivers through the smokier parts of the road out of Yellowknife.

“If you’re able to and plan to leave by road, pilot vehicles will help guide drivers through smokier areas immediately outside the city,” Thompson said.

— With files from Global News’ Nathaniel Dove and Paula Tran


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