NEWS

Crews 'making progress' on northern Sask. wildfires

07/19/2015 04:21 EDT | Updated 07/19/2016 05:59 EDT
One hundred fires continue to burn in northern Saskatchewan, but government officials say the immediate risk to communities has dissipated. 

Steve Roberts of the Wildfire Management Branch said crews are making progress on many of the fires, including the fire that burned a number of homes in Montreal Lake. 

And although 200 members of the military returned home Saturday, he said there are still 1,250 firefighters on the front lines. The crews are being supported by 60 helicopters and 13 air tankers.

Deputy Premier Don McMorris highlighted how the work by Armed Forces members played a big role in stabilizing and putting out the wildfires. 

"We're a proud people in Saskatchewan, and we don't have to ask for help very often. But it sure is reassuring to know the Canadian Armed Forces is there," he said.

Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre noted the military re-evaluated some criteria to determine current needs for military personnel. 

"The risk to human life and critical infrastructure had gone down. The province developed enough resources to do this internally. So there was no longer a requirement for unique military capabilities," Eyre said.

As risks lessen, displaced evacuees continue to return home to northern Saskatchewan. According to the Ministry of Social Services approximately 4,500 people are still being cared for by the government, though that number is dropping significantly each day.

The ministry has also begun to amalgamate evacuation centres at its two major sites in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

The remaining 1,660 people in Saskatoon will be centralized at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre.

In P.A., the 2,200 evacuees will be moved to Saskatchewan Polytechnic. A small number of evacuees still remain in North Battleford and Regina. 

As of Sunday morning, the last 140 people remaining in Cold Lake, Alta., were being bused home. 

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