With 230 wildfires so far, Sask. above 5-year average

Wildfire crews around the province have remained busy the past few weeks as wildfires burn, three of which are of particular concern to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).

According to the SPSA, there are 30 active fires, an increase of 16 new fires since last week. 232 wildfires have been observed this year, 30 fires more than the five-year average.

Of the 30 fires, the SPSA said six are not contained, three are contained, 15 have ongoing assessments, and six where the focus is on protecting values.

Of the non-contained fires, three are of particular concern to the SPSA as the nearby towns and villages are within 20 kilometres of the fires.

The Lock fire near the Northern Village of Dillon is 5,190 hectares large, the Stallard fire near Stoney Rapids is at 18 hectares, and the Pothole fire near Stanley Mission is at 360 hectares.

“All of those are full response fires because of the community potential threat and are being resourced with ground crews, aircraft, and heavy equipment when we can go those pieces of equipment to the fire,” Steve Roberts, vice president of operations with the SPSA said during a provincial call about the fires.

According to the SPSA there have been no evacuations of the towns and villages near the fires, and they are constantly reassessing the situation to ensure safety.

RAIN COULD BRING COMPLICATIONS

The hot conditions the province has been experiencing has made things more difficult for ground crews as they wait for cooler, wetter weather that could also bring an end to the fire ban.

“The continued heatwave will add to our fire load, increase complexity on these fires. They will require more effort because of the conditions. We also have the risk of more lightning fires that may start to occur as the system breaks down,” Roberts said.

“It is one of the primary reasons why we are continuing with the fire ban, and that’s to avoid unwanted human-caused fires.”

Roberts said that the news of rain coming to parts of the province is promising, but also concerning as with the rain comes lightning which could start more fires.

The Briggs fire which was burning close to the Cigar Lake mining facility last week is now considered managed.

The provincial fire ban, which is in effect for all provincial parks and crown land, will be in effect until at least July 11 when it will be reviewed, taking weather conditions into account.

The fire ban includes no open burns, no fireworks and no burning permits.