NEWS

15 homeless due to fires at Montreal Lake

07/16/2015 07:59 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT
While an estimated 1,500 people were able to return to the community of Montreal Lake, which had been evacuated due to forest fires, six homes were destroyed by fire and 15 people are homeless.

The community, about 200 kilometres northwest of Prince Albert, sits among a forested area which was seriously scorched by fire.

"It's going to be a lot of mental toll on our people," Edward Henderson, chief of Montreal Lake Cree Nation, said Thursday. "I've talked to our people the last couple of days, letting them know our community is going to look totally different."

Henderson said among their first priorities will be finding places to live for those who lost their homes.

Randy Bird, 53, is one of the people whose home burned down. It happened just after the community was evacuated.

He then returned to help the fire fighting effort.

"Came back and tried to save the community," Bird said, noting he has fire fighting training.

Bird said he will make do, for the time being, staying in a trailer. He also has family and friends who are helping out.

"It's hard to move back, but we're still gonna make it," he said.

There will also be a lot of clean work for community members.

"We got to clean out the reserve," Barry Roberts, an evacuee who was preparing to return home from a shelter in Prince Albert, said. "[We'll] help everybody with their houses, wash down most of the houses as best we can. Get everyone back together feeling back at home."

Roberts, 21, was one of many who spent nearly two weeks camping and sleeping in tents at the shelter.

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