Wildfire smoke, road closures force 450 people to leave Saskatchewan community
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, August 29, 2017 4:27PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 29, 2017 10:42PM EDT
PELICAN NARROWS, Sask. -- About 450 people are leaving a northeastern Saskatchewan community because of smoke and road closures caused by wildfires.
The Saskatchewan government says approximately 150 priority residents -- the elderly and those with health concerns -- and 300 of their family members will be transported from Pelican Narrows to a shelter in Saskatoon.
"There is a threat to their access from wildfire, the highway may be crossed and closed from wildfire and there is also the possibility of having heavy smoke move into the community, which will impact their health-priority patients," said Deanna Valentine, Emergency Social Services provincial coordinator.
Pelican Narrows, which is near the Manitoba boundary, is under a special air quality statement from Environment Canada.
The statement says there are high levels of air pollution due to forest fire smoke from fires in northern Saskatchewan, which will reduce visibility and bring extremely poor air quality.
The government says evacuees with health concerns will be supported in hotels.
"It would be people with respiratory issues, it would be the young babies, it would be the elderly people, pregnant moms anybody who may be more at risk to respiratory issues," Valentine said.
Another 12 residents from the community of Birch Portage are staying in a hotel in Prince Albert.
An evacuation centre has also been set up at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Saskatoon.
Emergency Social Services is working with the Red Cross, heath ministry, Salvation Army and other organizations to coordinate shelter, food, clothing, hygiene products and other necessities for evacuees.
The agencies are working to ensure families -- those who typically live in the same household or who daily care is provided -- are evacuated together.