Extreme heat, dry weather create challenges as crews work to contain Sask. wildfires

Fire crews are managing multiple uncontained fires in the province as high temperatures and a lack of moisture are creating favourable conditions for the fires to spread.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) has issued a fire ban for provincial parks, Crown land and the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District that includes open fires, controlled burns or fireworks. The ban comes on a day when the province is again expected to see scorching temperatures.

There are currently 17 active fires in the province, four of which are still not contained as of early Friday afternoon according to the province's active wildfire map.

Two of the uncontained fires are of particular concern according to the SPSA, the Briggs fire near Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine which was reported at more than 1,500 hectares as of Wednesday night, and the Lock fire near Buffalo Narrows at 3,380 hectares.

“The (mine has) … activated their incident management team and self-evacuated all non-critical staff," SPSA operations vice-president Steve Roberts said during a teleconference with media on Friday,

"Currently the fire is being managed and there has been no reported structure losses,” Roberts said.

According to the SPSA, communities near the Lock fire may be experiencing smoke coming from the fire, but it says industrial air cleaners have been shipped to the area to help people with respiratory concerns.

“We’re working with them so that they will be able to stay even if there is some smoke in the community,” Roberts said.

The SPSA said it is in communication with the communities of St. George’s Hill and Dillon Lake, as they are the two closest to the Lock fire at more than 20 kilometres away.

Air resources have been deployed in the area to help as a direct attack on the fires and some are being utilized to help protect staff on the ground.

The SPSA said the fire ban will remain in effect until there are some changes in the weather such as a drop in temperature or rain, and it is expecting it to last at least three or four days.