Thunder Bay

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations calls for evacuation due to forest fire

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations is calling for a full evacuation of all community members as a 200,000-hectare forest fire burns nearby.

Kenora 51 burning 20 kilometres north of the First Nation

Wabaseemoong Indpendent Nations is calling for a full evacuation due to the 200,000-hectare Kenora 51 fire, which is burning about 20 kilometres north of the community. (Ontario Forest Fires/Twitter)

Wabaseemoong Independent Nations is calling for a full evacuation of all community members as a 200,000-hectare forest fire burns nearby.

"The [Kenora 51] fire is active and growing," the community's chief and council said in a media release issued Monday. "Air quality in the community today is poor due to smoke. The Fire Team asks for the safety of everyone, including fire fighters, to have all community members evacuate ASAP."

Kenora 51 was listed as being 200,000 hectares in size on Tuesday. The fire is located about 20 kilometres north of Wabaseemoong.

Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services said water bombers and helicopters were assisting with fire suppression efforts, and firefighters are working to protect community infrastructure.

The community asked everyone who had the ability to self-evacuate to "do so immediately."

"Please tell someone at the Band Office your evacuation plan so we know you are safe."

Anyone who isn't able to self-evacuate was asked to go to the Band Office to arrange for evacuation. Support workers were going door-to-door in the community to explain options and discuss any concerns.

Wabaseemoong said flights were leaving Tuesday, carrying residents to London, Ont., where they would be hosted during the evacuation. Community members also have the option of going to a "full service evacuation site" in the nearby First Nation Wauzhusk Onigum.

Limited staff would remain in the community after Monday, and any residents who chose to stay behind were instructed to have a vehicle ready in the event they needed to leave on short notice, according to the media statement.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General said about 485 Wabaseemoong residents had left the community as of Monday night, with more departing the community on Tuesday.

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