Sask. wildfires continue to prompt evacuations from First Nations communities

Wildfires have prompted residents from the Moosomin First Nation, Saulteaux First Nation, Clearwater River Dene Nation and La Loche to leave their homes. The wildfire on Saulteaux First Nation has since been contained.

Moosomin FN band manager calls for volunteers

Large wildfire burning in the woods.

Wildfires in Saskatchewan are continuing to prompt evacuations from First Nation communities in Saskatchewan.

The Saulteaux First Nation, located about 43 kilometres north of North Battleford, began evacuating areas close to a wildfire on Thursday night.

On Thursday, North Battleford's Fire Chief Lindsay Holm advised against driving into the community, as the Battleford Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) are working to evacuate the community and traffic is hindering efforts to fight the fire and move people to safety.

The BATC posted on Facebook that the wildfire on Saulteaux First Nation was contained at 4 a.m. CST on Friday and no homes were lost.

Wildfires are also affecting the nearby Moosomin First Nation. On Thursday the BATC said there were fires burning on the west, northeast and east side of the First Nation.

On Thursday evening, the BATC estimated that almost 3,900 hectares of land had burned or was burning.

Arnold Blackstar, the Moosomin First Nation's band manager, said residents from about 15 homes near the fires had been moved to safer places on the reserve. He said he was concerned about the fire continuing to spread.

"The concern is it is dry, it is hot and the wind is shifting, there's no rain in the forecast unfortunately," Blackstar said on Thursday afternoon.

"The concern is for other residents and even surrounding communities to refrain from any open fire in their locations and to observe public safety orders that have been issued by the province and the municipalities."

Blackstar said he is grateful for firefighting assistance from Moosomin First Nation and other neighbouring communities, including North Battleford, Prince Albert and other First Nations.

"The current volunteers that we have now, this is their third day," Blackstar said. "The heat and exhaustion is setting in.

"If there's volunteers out there that are willing to come out and help — we would certainly welcome that now."

Blackstar said the First Nation will welcome volunteers of any kind, whether they join the firefighters on the frontline or supporting secondary or third level services, such as helping evacuees or ensuring the firefighters have proper supplies.

Blackstar added that wildfires of this significance can threaten the First Nation's traditional practices.

"The residents of the community depend on the land for sustenance and other activities related to traditional uses," Blackstar said. "The extreme weather patterns are a signal of changes in climate. I think all residents need to be concerned about their contribution to climate change."

According to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA), there are 14 active fires across the province and six are uncontained.

On Wednesday night, Clearwater River Dene Nation was placed under a mandatory evacuation order due to a wildfire. Around 50 people were bused to Meadow Lake and Llyodminster. Others left the community in their own vehicles.

On Thursday evening, a state of emergency was declared in the neighbouring village of La Loche. At that time the community was preparing for a handful of buses to take residents to Prince Albert overnight, before heading to Regina in the morning.

The SPSA will provide an update on Friday at 11:30 a.m. CST.

With files from Daniella Ponticelli and Sam Samson

Credit belongs to :

Check Also

Ex-corporal says government putting sexual assault cases in peril by failing to change the law

A retired corporal says the federal government is failing military victims of sexual assault by …