Fire ban, forecast improving wildfire threat in Saskatchewan

By Sarah Mills
May 10, 2016 - 7:32am

Saskatchewan's wildfire situation remains severe but the weather forecast could improve things. 

As of Monday morning, 17 fires were burning in the province - all human caused. Fortunately there is no direct threat to communities near those blazes.

The fire ban that covers much of the north has begun to have an impact on decreasing the number of fires being started.

"Many municipalities have issued fire bans and we are seeing a dramatic decrease in the number of fires that volunteer fire departments have had to respond to," explained Duane McKay with emergency prevention and fire safety management.

Officials within the Saskatchewan government continue to work with their Alberta and Manitoba counterparts to address the ongoing wildfires which is being seen as a "western Canada situation".

Given the cause of the fires and the dry conditions across much of the province, vigilante behaviour is how McKay feels this will be addressed.

"Respect the fire bans where they're in place and where they are not in place do not use fire unless absolutely necessary, take the proper precautions for recreational use and campfires and so on."

As for the Fort McMurray fire which has seen 88,000 people evacuated, the two biggest blazes remain 15 kilometres and 30 kilometres west of the border. That puts it approximately 50 kilometres from the nearest Saskatchewan community.

The cooler weather in the forecast and potential for rain is helping to douse the fire threat.

As a result in the change in the wind direction to the south, the air quality in northern Saskatchewan has improved.

So far, none of the evacuees from Fort McMurray and surrounding area are being housed or served in Saskatchewan.

RCMP officers from Saskatchewan are now going to be helping with the Fort McMurray fire efforts. Alberta's K-division has sought help from several provinces.

It isn't clear how many officers from here will head west to provide shift relief but they will be there five to 10 days at a time.

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