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Wildfire update: latest on La Loche evacuations

Update from SPSA for May 5 on provincial wildfire situation
SPSA has issued an update on the wildfire situation in the province as of May 5.

REGINA - The wildfire situation in the province has erupted in recent days with news of a full evacuation of La Loche. 

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency Vice-President of Operations Steve Roberts provided the latest on the situation there and in other communities. 

According to Roberts, their weather will continue hot and dry over the next 72 hours resulting in wildfires being active in the afternoons and with very high hazards related to starts of new fires due to the dry, grassy conditions.

Roberts said there are 13 active wildfires in the province right now. Four are contained, two are under active assessment, one is protecting property and six are uncontained.

There have been 73 fires so far in the province and that is above their average of 39.

Two wildfires were of particular note. One is the Rocky fire having an impact on Highway 106; the other is the Saulteaux fire near Saulteaux and Moosomin First Nations which is posing some direct threats to those communities, but Operations are working with local fire departments on that as well. While the SPSA is assisting with the response it is the local tribal council who is handling the evacuations. 

The biggest fire of concern is the Local fire located near the village of La Loche and Clearwater Dene River First Nations communities. The fire is 266 hectares. There has been no growth in the past 36 hours and no homes, businesses or infrastructure has been burned by the fire.

There has been some minor losses of sheds and an abandoned vehicle was damaged.

The SPSA has been resourcing this fire sending in crews, heavy equipment and air tankers and have increased their support over the last 48 hours.

The fire has resulted in an evacuation from Clearwater Dene on May 3 and La Loche on May 4, due to smoke and threat to highway access.

Currently, Highway 955 is open though there may be visibility impacts. Roberts says crews are making good progress on values protection and also working with heavy equipment on fire containment.

They are also seeing over 190 grassfires reported across the province with local fire departments responding to some and the province responding to others. 

Regarding La Loche, it is a full evacuation with an expected 3,000 residents impacted. Regina is where those evacuees will be accommodated, as that city has the largest capacity available and also will be able to keep continuity among families.