PELICAN NARROWS, Sask. — A general evacuation was ordered Wednesday for a northeastern Saskatchewan community because of smoke and road closures caused by wildfires.
Harold Linklater, vice-chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, posted a notice to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon telling people that if they choose not to leave, they will be on their own.
Linklater said there is no guarantee of phone lines, power, water or other essential services.
He told community members who have raised concerns about property theft and vandalism that all incidents will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The Saskatchewan government said Emergency Social Services was preparing to receive an additional 1,100 people from the community of Pelican Narrows.
The government said the plan was to send 500 of those residents to Saskatoon shelters and hotels and 600 to hotels in Prince Albert.
The general evacuation came after about 450 people — including the elderly, those with health concerns and their families — were forced to leave on Tuesday.
Pelican Narrows is under a special air-quality statement from Environment Canada because of high levels of air pollution due to smoke from forest fires in northern Saskatchewan.
The statement covers a wide area from Spiritwood in central Saskatchewan, east to the Manitoba boundary and north to La Ronge.
Those who arrived Tuesday night stayed at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre.
“I was scared because my son is only three months and he’s coughing,” Karalyn Michel told CTV News when she arrived in Saskatoon from Pelican Narrows.
“I’m just worried about my kids? it’s pretty bad and hopefully we can go home soon.”
Some evacuees are staying with friends or family members, while others are being are being housed in congregate shelters.
Those with more serious health concerns, like people on dialysis, will stay in hotels, according to Emergency Social Services provincial coordinator Diana Valentine.
“There is a threat to their access from wildfire, the highway may be crossed and closed from wildfire, and there is also the possibility of having heavy smoke move into the community, which will impact their health-priority patients,” Valentine said.
Emergency Social Services was working with the Red Cross, heath ministry, Salvation Army and other organizations to coordinate shelter, food, clothing, hygiene products and other necessities for evacuees.