Driver slips through raging forest fire in northern Saskatchewan
People evacuated from a number of communities on weekend
People in northern Saskatchewan are continuing to deal with numerous wildfires — and for one driver, it was an extremely close encounter.
Michelle Hopper posted a video on Facebook Sunday showing a massive fire on either side of High 969, north of Montreal Lake.
The driver, whom she identified as Angel, made it through safely, she said. People who were caught between the two fires also made it through OK, she said.
Hundreds ordered to leave
As thick, heavy smoke blankets northern Saskatchewan, more communities in the region are being evacuated. The list includes: Sucker River, Wadin Bay, English Bay, Ramsay Bay, Weyakwin, Montreal Lake, Timber Bay, Grandmother Bay and Stanley Mission. These communities all comprise the La Ronge area.
On the west side of the province, La Loche, Clearwater and Pinehouse also have evacuation orders.
Deanna Wysoskey, a spokesperson for the ministry of social services, confirmed evacuees continue to pour into southern communities.
More than one hundred people are in hotels in North Battleford. Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Prince Albert is hosting 125 evacuees, and Carlton High School is housing approximately 200.
Wysoskey said 516 people are staying in a Saskatoon community centre. The ministry is preparing additional facilities, including a location at the University of Regina and a second location in Saskatoon at the SaskTel Centre.
Right now, 1,000 people are using social services because of the fires, Wysoskey confirmed.
Highway 2 north of Prince Albert, towards La Ronge remained closed on Monday.
Some Lac La Ronge Indian Band communities are among those threatened by fire, Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said.
"It was heading to Grandmother's Bay yesterday pretty fast and hot, so we had to immediately evacuate."
Cook-Searson said some people were stuck at Sucker River Sunday due to road closures. Highways officials convoyed them through to La Ronge.
More firefighters arrive
To deal with the fires, a team of specialized firefighters have been flown in from Ontario.
The ministry of the environment says a forecast of hot and dry weather means the smoky conditions will continue for some time.
There were 117 active wildfires in the province as of Monday morning, and 511 wildfires across Saskatchewan so far this year.