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700 Saskatchewan wildfire evacuees find relief, welcome in Cold Lake

Almost 700 people from the La Ronge area in northern Saskatchewan are in Cold Lake this morning, some of the more than 13,000 forced from their homes in the face of encroaching wildfires.

Overcrowded evacuation centres force La Ronge residents to Cold Lake, 500 kms away

Hundreds of beds in the Cold Lake recreation centre are set up to accommodate evacuees from northern Saskatchewan. (CBC)
Almost 700 people from the La Ronge area in northern Saskatchewan are in Cold Lake this morning, some of the more than 13,000 forced from their homes in the face of encroaching wildfires.
Declan Ross says he had to sleep in the bathroom of an evacuation centre in Prince Albert, Sask. (CBC)

Many of the evacuees came from an overcrowded evacuation centre in Prince Albert, Sask.

"I was asleep in the bathroom," said Declan Ross. "It was pretty bad. A lot of people didn't have any blankets."

The mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland, says evacuees will be able to stay until it's safe for them to return home.

"If we had a fire in our community, our residents would be displaced too and would probably be looking to Saskatchewan to accommodate our residents," he said. "It's the Canadian way to help everybody out."

He said they have extra room for other evacuees in the centre. While the Red Cross is in change of evacuations, Copeland said city staff was also involved in providing entertainment for the new arrivals -- especially the young children. 

"Wer'e going to keep them busy with a lot of activities today, and just to try to make them as comfortable as possile."

"It's like a big sleep over. Everything is going well.

Hear the full interview with Craig Copeland

The Canadian military will send 1,400 soldiers to help emergency crews that, in some cases, have been on the front lines in several provinces for close to two weeks.

More than 110 fires are burning in Saskatchewan.

Another 100 are burning in Alberta, with just over 40 considered out of control.

Cold Lake mayor Craig Copeland says his town will help out as long as necessary. (CBC)
Back in Cold Lake, the Red Cross is giving people cots to sleep on and providing meals.

"We'll be here as long as it takes," Copeland said. "I'm sure everyone in that building doesn't want to be here. They want to be back home and safe."

Elder Jean Charles appreciates the effort

"I like the way some people go and help others, because you don't see that a lot," she said.

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