Saskatchewan

118 fires today, situation could worsen: Saskatchewan officials

The number of Saskatchewan forest fires has increased in the past day and thanks to hotter weather, the situation could get worse tomorrow, officials say.

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The number of Saskatchewan forest fires has increased in the past day and thanks to hotter weather, the situation could get worse tomorrow, officials say.

Provincial officials said Thursday there are now 118 wildfires burning in the north, up from 113 the day before.

One of the largest, covering 90,000 hectares, is only 1.5 kilometres from the town of La Ronge.

90,000 hectares are more area than Saskatchewan's 16 cities have combined.

Dry conditions and temperatures topping 30 C, combined with shifting winds, could mean even more fires on Friday, officials said.

The good news is no fires have burned houses or made their way inside communities since yesterday.

Also good news, said Duane McKay, who heads the province's emergency management branch, is that more firefighting resources are on the way.

There had been about 600 firefighters working on fire lines until the Canadian Forces sent in another 500 earlier this week.

Then, after the Lac La Ronge Indian Band put out the call for firefighters, another 600 people stepped forward.

McKay said the province is delighted with that response and is putting together an expedited training program to get them into the field as soon as possible.

Environment ministry spokesman Steve Roberts said the province has 54 helicopters and 23 tankers dropping water on the fires, but it continues to look for additional resources across Canada and the U.S. to add to those numbers.

After weeks of wildfires, there are now some 7,900 people in emergency shelters in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

However, some people who've been forced from their homes are staying with friends or family in the south. The total number who've had to leave could be anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 officials said.

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