More than 100 people flee to La Ronge as wildfires close in
SASKATOON -- With more than 100 wildfires burning around Saskatchewan, communities are preparing themselves in case things take a turn, especially as temperatures are set to increase through the week.
“The general situation for La Ronge and area is we have multiple fires in our communities,” said Maruice Ratt, emergency response coordinator for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band.
“Our main concerns are for Grandmothers Bay and Stanley Mission as they have fires less than 10 kilometres from each community.
“Voluntary evacuations for higher needs people, that’s the priority groups that we have in La Ronge right now. We do have an alert issued out for Stanley Mission as well for evacuation. We are not sure if we will we evacuate at full scale yet, we are waiting for updates from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to help us make decisions with that.”
Ratt said 114 people have been voluntarily relocated to the Jonas Roberts Memorial Community Centre in La Ronge from Grandmothers Bay and Stanley Mission.
“Mostly in the evenings the smoke drops and becomes worse. Our concern is for people with respiratory problems, so we focus on them and making sure they are comfortable,” Ratt said.
Ratt said they are keeping an eye on the weather as well as the fires as they wait to make any decisions.
”Depending on the wind conditions and the fire conditions, if they flare up to be a threat to the community, then yes, we will do evacuations right away,” Ratt said.
MELFORT MONITORS CONDITIONS
Air quality alerts have been issued in several areas by Environment Canada in the province such as La Ronge, La Loche, Melfort, and Prince Albert.
Brent Lutz, director of development, planning, and community relations for the City of Melfort, said things have been hazy lately, but things have started to clear up over the past few days.
“Right now we are registering a level three, which is a low risk. We’ve been as high as five. For people that have respiratory problems, seniors, some children, at those times it may have some effect on them.
“Skies are fairly clear in the community, there is very little evidence of wildfires, but that may change if the wind changes direction,” Lutz said.
With how hot the summer has been so far, Lutz said Melfort has been trying to keep on top of the situation before any fires arise in the area.
“Certainly it’s been dry and we’ve had fire bans on at various times already this spring, and continue to watch the conditions for risk of fire,” Lutz said.
Premier Scott Moe addressed the wildfire situation, hoping for rain like many communities in the province while applauding work being done in the sky and on the ground to battle the fires.
“It would be fantastic if we had a change in the weather for a few days, not only for our forest fire situation but also for our agricultural industry as well. We could desperately use a soaker, a few inches of rain here,” Moe said.
“All of the air tankers are hard at work as well. I think the effectiveness of the work they do alongside our ground firefighters is evident around the Cigar Lake area.”