Seven hundred and eighty residents of Waterhen Lake First Nation have left the community due to nearby wildfires and the evacuation order is expected to last at least a couple more days, according to Chief Joanne Roy.
Residents in the community of nearly 900 people were told to leave their homes around 1 p.m. 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 [Thursday] evening.”
Elders and the chronically ill are staying in Meadow Lake hotels, while eight families are also staying in North West College's student housing. The remaining community members are in Saskatoon, either at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre or at nearby hotels.
“There is a bus on standby in case there are late-comers,” Roy said. “There’s a few people back at home that choose not to leave their residence, but we have security there.”
Roy said she is grateful for every individual and agency who helped with the efforts thus far. She said everyone is dedicated to keeping people as well-informed, safe, and as comfortable as possible while they 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.”
According to the Saskatchewan Environment Ministry, no structures were lost in the so-called 'Tuff' fire as of yesterday afternoon. The fire is currently burning more across than 2,600 hectares, and both Waterhen Lake and Jeanette Lake are in the 'Tuff' fire zone.
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