Heavy wildfire smoke subsiding in the north, blowing east
Hundreds of people have evacuated communities in northern Saskatchewan due to heavy smoke
The heavy smoke from forest fires in the La Ronge area that affected air quality and forced evacuations is subsiding in the north and heading slightly south.
Environment Canada ended its special statement for extensive and widespread smoke in northern Saskatchewan communities early Tuesday morning.
A few hours later, Environment Canada sent out another alert for the northeastern grain belt and communities such as Hudson Bay, Kamsack and Melfort.
The grain belt alert said that at times the smoke could give the skies a hazy appearance and deteriorate the air quality.
On Monday night, the alert for northern areas said that smoke reduced visibility to around 1.6 kilometres at the La Ronge airport.
Environment Canada still included local smoke in its northern weather forecast for Tuesday as well as some showers and risk of thunderstorm.
The forest fires have caused the evacuation of roughly 700 northerners. As of Monday night, there were 400 in Saskatoon, 175 in Prince Albert and around 140 from Clearwater First Nation near La Loche staying with friends and family.
Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band wrote on Facebook that smoke was the main concern for affected communities on Monday night.
According to provincial Ministry of Environment's daily wildfire update, there were 50 active wildfires in Saskatchewan on Tuesday and 344 in total so far this season. There were 47 burning on Monday.
Government officials said the number of wildfires has almost doubled in 2015 over the previous year due to drier conditions.