With an eye on Fort McMurray, Sask. prepares for its own fire season

Officials in Saskatchewan are keeping a watchful eye on developments with the wildfire in Fort McMurray, with equipment and resources ready to help, while also preparing for fires at home.

Province limits open fires in parks

More than 100 firefighters, 10 helicopters and 16 air tankers continue to battle a massive wildfire near the evacuated city of Fort McMurray, Alta. (Reuters)

Officials in Saskatchewan are keeping a watchful eye on developments with wildfires in Alberta — with equipment and resources ready to help — while also preparing for fires at home.

On Wednesday a water tanker from Saskatchewan provided assistance attacking a new fire north of Fort McMurray. That aircraft has since returned to its base.

As smoke from Alberta descends on parts of northern Saskatchewan, officials noted Thursday that — with no precipitation on the way — the fire risk throughout the province remains high.

Also, the Ministry of Parks has issued a restriction on open fires for the following provincial parks, and nearby recreation sites:

  • Blackstrap.
  • Buffalo Pound.
  • Danielson.
  • Douglas.
  • Pike Lake.

"All open fires in these locations are prohibited," the ministry said. "Self-contained portable gas heating devices and fire pits, barbecues, pressurized stoves and charcoal briquettes will be permitted for cooking and heating purposes."

Officials from the province's emergency management and fire safety have also been advising caution, when it comes to fires.

"With these extreme fire conditions that Saskatchewan is facing, we are advising all residents and businesses within the province to be fire smart," Mieka Cleary said.

As of Thursday, there were 10 wildfires burning in northern Saskatchewan, with nine of those considered contained.

In the southern part of the province, grass fire has been an issue.

There were 60 calls, on Wednesday, for local fire departments to respond to a grass fire.

Premiers call for more federal support

Political leaders from Western Canada issued a joint statement Thursday calling on the federal government to get more involved in efforts to handle natural disasters and emergencies relating to weather.

The leaders, including Saskatchewan's Brad Wall, met in B.C.

They said the federal government can help with a national, coordinated, strategy to assist provincial governments. There should also be funding to improve fire preparedness and suppression capacity.

The premiers made a similar call about a year ago following serious wildfires.