Province issues provincial park fire ban for most of Saskatchewan

A ban on open fires on Crown land, including provincial parks, is in effect in much of Saskatchewan, stretching from the Churchill River to the U.S. border.

Open fire ban applies to parks and other Crown land, extends from the Churchill River south to U.S. border

The Tuff Fire, a 1,500-hectare fire within the Meadow Lake Provincial Park, prompted an evacuation order for the Waterhen Lake First Nation on Tuesday afternoon. (Twitter/Steve Martell)

The government of Saskatchewan has instituted a fire ban on Crown land, including provincial parks, throughout much of the province.

The ban, which the province said was prompted by dry and windy conditions, extends from the Churchill River all the way down to the U.S. border.

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is excluded from the ban because fire risks in the area are lower, the province said in a news release. 

Self-contained heating devices, pressurized stoves, gas barbecues, propane firepits or charcoal briquettes used in an approved firebox will be permitted for cooking and heating purposes during the ban.

There were 14 wildfires burning throughout the province early Tuesday afternoon, eight of which were under control.

Evacuation order for Waterhen Lake, Crutwell

Two of those fires have been the subject of concern for residents, and prompting two evacuations on Tuesday.

An evacuation order was put in place for the Waterhen Lake First Nation on Tuesday afternoon. The community has been blanketed with smoke from the Tuff fire, burning in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park, since the weekend.

Thirty people, including seven children, with respiratory concerns were transported from the community to Meadow Lake on Monday, prior to the evacuation order.

There are two portable air scrubbers — basically large air filters — in use within the community, with two others on standby in Meadow Lake.

The so-called Rally fire near Holbein and Crutwell prompted an evacuation order for the hamlet of Crutwell on Monday but the order was lifted later that day. It was reissued on Tuesday afternoon. 

While the fire ban extends to Crown land only, other rural and urban municipalities, as well as regional and national parks, may follow suit and impose their own fire bans.

Steve Roberts, executive director of wildfire management for the province, said there have been 148 fires on Crown lands so far this year. That's "well above" the five-year average of 86 fires, Roberts said.