Saskatoon

Pelican Narrows fire evacuees anxious to get home: elder

After several days in an emergency shelter in Saskatoon, some residents who left Pelican Narrows, Sask., because of nearby forest fires are anxious to get back home, a community elder says.

592 people from community staying in Saskatoon soccer centre

Elder William Ballantyne of Pelican Narrows outside an emergency shelter in Saskatoon Saturday. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

After several days in an emergency shelter in Saskatoon, some residents who left Pelican Narrows, Sask., because of nearby forest fires are anxious to get back home, a community elder says.

"It's full in here," said William Ballantyne outside the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Saskatoon Saturday afternoon.

"They want to go home, some of them."

Pelican Narrows was put under a mandatory evacuation order on Wednesday because of wildfires near the community.

Hundreds of people began leaving Pelican Narrows on Tuesday, with some taking shelter in Prince Albert and others in Saskatoon, which are respectively about 285 and 420 kilometres to the southwest.

2,354 people forced from homes

As of Saturday morning, a total of 2,354 people from Pelican Narrows, and the nearby communities of Birch Portage and Sandy Bay, were staying in Saskatoon and Prince Albert, according to the Canadian Red Cross. 

Out of those, 592 were at the soccer centre in Saskatoon while another 432 were staying in either hotels or with friends and family.

"There's lots of nurses in here to help out," said Ballantyne. "And Red Cross has helped out, asking [people] what they need, giving people a ride into town sometimes to get stuff."

Other evacuees have been walking to nearby stores for supplies, he added.

No buildings burned

There was no word Saturday on when people might be able to return to Pelican Narrows, though the fire situation around the community remained stable, according to a Saturday morning update from the Saskatchewan government.

About 300 people remained in the community as of Saturday morning.

No buildings in the community had caught on fire.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Journalist at CBC Saskatoon

Story tips? guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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