total of 780 residents of Waterhen Lake First Nation have left the community due to nearby wildfires. The evacuation order is expected to last at least a couple more days, according to Chief Joanne Roy.
Members of the community of nearly 900 people were told to leave their homes around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15, after a fire burning since May 13 started to grow on the lake’s West side, Roy said.
“It looks like it’s going to be for the next two days,” she said. “We will get confirmation from Sask. Environment later tomorrow evening (May 17).”
Elders and the chronically ill are staying in Meadow Lake hotels. Eight families are also staying in North West College student housing. The remaining community members are in Saskatoon either at the Henk Ruys Soccer centre or nearby hotels.
“There is a bus on standby in case there are late-comers,” she said. “There’s a few people back at home that choose not to leave their residence but we have security there, RCMP there, have leadership and a few frontline health workers that are back at the community.”
Roy said she was grateful for every individual and agency who assisted with the rescue efforts thus far. She said everyone is dedicated to keeping people informed, safe, and as comfortable as possible while people are displaced from their homes.
“So many people have helped,” Roy said. “Red Cross, emergency wildfire management, Sask. Environment, Meadow Lake Tribal Council. It was because of all their team effort that made this transition much smoother.”
Volunteers are continuing to provide Waterhen residents staying in the Meadow Lake area with food at the Flying Dust gymnasium.
According to a media call from Sask. Environment late this morning, no structures were lost in the Tuff fire, which is currently burning at more than 2,600 hectares. Both Waterhen Lake and Jeanette Lake are in the Tuff fire zone.
On Twitter @ReporterKath
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