Thunder Bay

Sioux Lookout declares state of emergency as town hosts Keewaywin First Nation evacuees

The town of Sioux Lookout, Ont., has declared a state of emergency to "ensure the community is well-equipped to assist with the evacuation of Keewaywin First Nation."

Sioux Lookout welcomed 87 evacuees on Tuesday, 122 more people are expected Wednesday

The town of Sioux Lookout has declared a state of emergency to ensure that the community is well equipped to assist the evacuation of Keewaywin First Nation. Residents are leaving the community due to a 37,000 hectare forest fire nearby. (Chris Harris/Getty Images)

About 200 residents of Keewaywin are expected to leave the northwestern Ontario First Nation by the end of the day Wednesday, bound for Sioux Lookout, as a forest fire rages less than 20 kilometres from the community.

Sioux Lookout declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to "ensure the community is well-equipped to assist with the evacuation of Keewaywin First Nation," town officials said in a written release.

The town said the emergency declaration ensures that resources are available and any costs incurred by the municipality resulting from assistance provided are covered by provincial and federal governments.

Residents from Keewaywin are being asked to leave the community due to a nearby forest fire, known as Red Lake 23, that provincial wildfire officials say was not under control Wednesday at more than 37,000 hectares. The blaze is burning approximately 16 kilometres southwest of Keewaywin.

"Sioux Lookout welcomed and registered 87 evacuees [on Tuesday], via three flights, and we are expecting 122 more [on Wednesday], via four additional flights," Brian MacKinnon, Sioux Lookout's public information officer for its emergency control group stated in Wednesday's release. 

He said the community is able to lodge up to 210 phase-one evacuees, which include elderly, young children, pregnant women and people needing specific health supports.

Keewaywin is located about 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. The Keewaytinook Okimakanak chiefs council, of which Keewaywin is a member, says about 380 people live in the community.