Thunder Bay·Updated

Partial evacuations of Cat Lake, North Spirit Lake First Nations due to forest fires set to start Wednesday

The partial evacuations of two more northwestern Ontario First Nation communities due to forest fires are expected to begin Wednesday, the Ministry of the Solicitor General says. Evacuations of Deer Lake and Poplar Hill are complete.

Vulnerable community members will be taken from communities

Forest fires are forcing partial and full evacuations of various northwestern Ontario communities, as crews work to get the blazes under control and reduce risk to people and property. (Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry/Provided)

The partial evacuations of two more northwestern Ontario First Nation communities due to forest fires are expected to begin Wednesday, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said.

Vulnerable members of Cat Lake and North Spirit Lake will be taken out of the communities amid fire and smoke concerns, the ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry did not say where residents of the communities will be housed.

Evacuations of Deer Lake and Poplar Hill First Nations are complete, the ministry said.

Pikangikum is also being evacuated, but that process is ongoing. The ministry said that as of Monday night, more than 1,080 Pikangikum residents had left the community.

The province's interactive forest fire map showed two fires near North Spirit Lake as of Tuesday afternoon:

  • Red Lake 129,  west of the community and being held at eight hectares.
  • Red Lake 140, just south of the community and listed as not under control at 17 hectares.

Meanwhile, there are several large fires near Cat Lake, including:

  • Sioux Lookout 60, not under control at 850 hectares, west of the community.
  • Sioux Lookout 81, a new fire confirmed Tuesday, is burning just south of Sioux Lookout 60; it's listed as not under control at 0.1  hectares.
  • Sioux Lookout 59, 10 hectares, burning north of the community and being observed.
  • Sioux Lookout 47, being observed at 20,000 hectares, burning to the north of the community.

In a Facebook message posted Tuesday, Pikangikum chief and council said that with the number of evacuations taking place, resources across the North are "stretched beyond capacity."

"Therefore, we are recommending that if you are already housed somewhere (hotel or other) you stay where you are," the statement reads. "At this time, we cannot guarantee that you will have a place to stay if you leave where you are currently."

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