UPDATE: Wildfire growing near northwestern Ontario First Nation's community amid evacuations
PIKANGIKUM, Ont. - Evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation will be taken to host communities in two provinces on Sunday while a wildfire continues to grow near the northwestern Ontario community.
The Canadian Armed Forces says it has evacuated about 1,500 people from the fly-in community northwest of Thunder Bay, and most have landed in Sioux Lookout and Kapuskasing.
A spokesman for Sioux Lookout says evacuees who are airlifted out of Pikangikum today will be transported directly to Winnipeg, while most of those who have already arrived in Sioux Lookout will be taken to larger nearby communities such as Thunder Bay and Timmins.
Brian MacKinnon says about 19 evacuees will be staying in a hotel in Sioux Lookout because being transported again could jeopardize their health, while seven others are in hospital as a precaution. The military says those most at risk to the effects of smoke from the wildfire, such as children and seniors, have already been evacuated.
Officials say the fire, which started on Wednesday, grew to just over 36 square kilometres yesterday - about 3,600 hectares - but favourable winds are keeping it away from the community.
There is no rain in today's Environment Canada forecast, however, periods of rain and showers are expected Monday and Tuesday.
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the Pikangikum area, warning that people in the vicinity "should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take necessary safety precautions.''