Canadian firefighters are battling a growing wildfire in northern Saskatchewan that displaced an additional 8,000 people in the northern part of the province this weekend. The Canadian military has been called in as the fire threat continues to grow.
The government sent buses to evacuate people in the rural town of La Ronge at the urging of provincial government and First Nation officials, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Some 5,500 people already had been evacuated and were receiving government help.
An additional 1,000 members of the military are being brought in to help fight the fire, CTV News reported.
The fire was nearing the edge of town as people were moved. City officials requested assistance from additional fire departments to save structures from the flames. The fire was 8 kilometers from the town, officials said Saturday. And the weather was not favorable for fighting it.
"Residents are advised to leave with a sense of purpose and urgency, but not panic," La Ronge Mayor Thomas Sierzycki said, according to the National Observer.
Chief Tammy Cook-Searson of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band told APTN the airport near the edge of town had been affected. “The fire is in the airport and is moving,” Cook-Searson said. “The forecasted weather is not in our favor today (Sunday).”
Given the size of the evacuation, some of those fleeing the fire are being forced into neighboring Alberta where the town of Cold Lake is preparing to provide help. According to officials, the Red Cross and Alberta government are prepared to shelter 5,000 people.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has spoken with Prime Minister Stephen Harper about coordinating assistance if more military help is needed, the Globe and Mail reported. “The prime minister was very accommodating and willing to make sure that upon official request that the resources are there,” Wall told a media briefing Saturday afternoon, according to the Globe and Mail.