Montreal Lake chief says fire damage is frustrating and heartbreaking

Edward Henderson, Chief of the Montreal Lake First Nation, has confirmed that six structures have been lost to fire.

Six structures including a trailer were destroyed by fire.

A helicopter flying over a wildfire in Northern Saskatchewan. (CBC)

Edward Henderson, Chief of the Montreal Lake First Nation, has confirmed that six structures, including a four-plex, were lost to forest fires.

Henderson said people are sad to learn the news, but said, "We were blessed that we didn't lose more structures at this time." 

"It's been frustrating, it's been heartbreaking," he said, "to inform people that they've lost their homes." 

Henderson said 15 families have lost their homes.

He visited the community on Sunday and said he was surprised to see some houses standing while everything else around burned. Volunteers are using bulldozers to push the trees back from houses and build fire guards.

Henderson is waiting for word for the entire community to return, but doesn't expect that to happen until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest.

'We were given two hours notice'

Henderson said firefighters told them they were safe, even when the fire was two kilometres away.

"That's what so frustrating. We were telling our people, telling them on social media, 'Don't worry there's no threat to our community,' he said. "The next day, we're given two hours notice."

Without time to plan, Henderson says they had to get people on buses quickly. They weren't certain where everyone was sent.

Once things settle down, Henderson and his council will meet with the province to discuss some of the issues that came up in the evacuation.

As for the people who lost homes, Henderson said the community will rally behind them.

"We will rebuild and help them get their lives back together," he said.