Saskatchewan issues fire ban as wildfires rage

There is a provincial fire ban for Crown lands, provincial parks and the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District.

As temperatures remain high and conditions dry heading into the May long weekend, a provincial fire ban has been put in place for large parts of northern Saskatchewan.

On Tuesday, citing the “hot, dry conditions and an extreme fire risk that covers most of northern Saskatchewan,” the provincial government announced that the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) had issued a provincial fire ban, effective immediately, for Crown lands, provincial parks and the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District.

“While many people are looking forward to the long weekend, the decision to implement a fire ban is necessary in order to protect lives, communities, major infrastructure and resources from wildfire,” SPSA president and fire commissioner Marlo Pritchard said in a statement.

The ban includes any open fires, controlled burns and fireworks north of Highway 16.

Many municipalities already have fire bans in place.

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A convoy of vehicles was allowed to leave a northern Saskatchewan village early Tuesday morning after Buffalo Narrows issued a mandatory evacuation order. The village had issued a state of emergency on Monday.

Earlier this month, hundreds of residents from La Loche, Clearwater River Dene Nation and others in the area were transported to safe communities as crews battled wildfires.

As of Tuesday, there were 28 wildfires burning in the province. To date, Saskatchewan has had more than double the amount of wildfires typically seen at this time of year.

Similar conditions are expected to continue as wildfires throughout Western Canada have forced thousands of evacuations and air quality warnings due to smoke as far east as northern Ontario.

Roughly 2,500 people are fighting the fires throughout Alberta and 25 of 88 active wildfires are considered out of control.

Wildfires have also been a concern for Alberta’s neighbours, including the Northwest Territories, where the K’atl’odeeche First Nation and town of Hay River, about 120 kilometres from the Alberta boundary, are under evacuation orders.

In British Columbia, the City of Fort St. John, about 200 kilometres northwest of Grand Prairie, Alta., also issued an evacuation alert for its roughly 21,000 residents in response to a wildfire that’s more than 130 square kilometres in size.

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