NEWS

Saskatchewan forest fires force 13,000 from homes

07/06/2015 09:56 EDT | Updated 07/06/2016 05:59 EDT
More than 13,000 people have been forced from their homes due to northern Saskatchewan forest fires, in what is being called the biggest-ever wildfire evacuation in the province.

There are 112 fires burning in the province Monday, the Saskatchewan Environment Ministry says.

- INTERACTIVE | Explore Natural Resources Canada's wildfires map

On the weekend, as forest fires crept closer to inhabited areas, a general evacuation for the La Ronge area was ordered.

That affects close to 8,000 people and is in addition to the more than 5,000 who were taken to emergency shelters in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and other centres earlier last week.

"This is absolutely the biggest evacuation we've experienced in Saskatchewan," Red Cross spokeswoman Cindy Fuchs told reporters on Sunday.

More than 600 firefighters were battling fires last week, and it was announced on the weekend that 1,000 more from the Canadian Forces would be put to work in the La Ronge area.

Hot weather, dry conditions and lightning strikes have combined to create the worst time for forest fires in many years.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Tammy Cook-Searson, chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band. "We've had to evacuate all six of our communities."

Resources stretched

Only emergency services remain in the town and area, about 380 kilometres north of Saskatoon, she said in an interview with CBC News on Monday.  

Fire was approaching La Ronge from two sides on the weekend. Five fire departments are in the town, but resources are stretched to the limit.

"They are trying their best," Cook-Searson said. "There are so many wildfires right now."

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