More evacuations from Pelican Narrows wildfires

By Glenn Hicks
September 12, 2017 - 3:55pm

There have been more evacuations from the Pelican Narrows wildfires and the situation remains “volatile,” as over 2,700 evacuees continue to await word on when they’ll be able to return home.

Wind whipped up one of the three blazes in the area - the Granite Fire- which has now grown from 107,000 to 110,000 hectares and that forced the evacuation of the twenty residents in Tyrell Lake. The Preston and Wilkin Fires remained stable.

Meanwhile, there is some positive news on the transportation front. Highway 106 east to Creighton from the junction with Highway 135, which has been closed for two weeks, is reopening for escorted travel.

“Those convoys will run between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., then from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” Doug Wakabayashi with the Ministry of Highways said in a media call Tuesday. “But that’s as conditions and fire activity allow.”

Officials said they are now having regular briefings with the community leadership in Pelican Narrows, but no recommendations had been made regarding a return home for evacuees.

“We’re identifying conditions, and conditions remain volatile, as we saw with Tyrell Lake,” Ray Unrau, the Deputy Commissioner of Fire Safety said. “We’re letting them know what we’re seeing and we’re working with them to meet their needs. When we’re all on the same page as far as the next steps, then we’ll definitely be ready to take those actions.”

On Monday, provincial Emergency Social Services said they were asking those among the 1,700 Prince Albert based evacuees to consider moving to Saskatoon because of the stresses being exerted on the health system and hotels in P.A.

During Tuesday’s media call, Executive Director Deanna Valentine said the numbers of evacuees had grown by another 300 to nearly 2,000 in P.A. and she repeated the call for some to consider relocating.

“We would encourage that if there are people with family or friends in Saskatoon, or who would like to come to Saskatoon voluntarily, that that offer is open. Although I want to make it clear that we’re not compelling people to move," Valentine said. “We recognize that the numbers in P.A. are pretty high and if people would like to move to Saskatoon to equalize these numbers we’d appreciate that.”


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