Virtually all Saskatchewan forest fire evacuees will be home by Tuesday

Virtually all Saskatchewan forest fire evacuees will be home by Tuesday

7 July 2008

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SASKATOON – All but 100 of the remaining 1,800 evacuees from northern communities threatened by smoke and fire will be home by Tuesday evening.

Buses are leaving Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Regina on Monday, returning to fire-ravaged regions that have been doused by rain over the weekend.

The 819 evacuees from Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay staying at University of Saskatchewan and SaskTel Soccer Centre were scheduled to leave at 1 p.m. on 13 buses. The remaining 350 evacuees, staying at Cosmo Civic Centre and in hotels, leave Tuesday as more buses become available.

“We don’t want to overwhelm the receiving communities by returning 600 people all within an hour,” said Cathy Bulych, director of emergency support services for the province.

Evacuees in Prince Albert from Black Lake and Stony Rapids also return home Monday. Thirty-eight evacuees from Uranium City will remain in P.A. until the smoke clears.

Buses take Pelican Narrows evacuees home from Regina on Tuesday.

Overall, no more than 100 evacuees will be away from home by Tuesday evening, Bulych said. Those include the Uranium City residents and others with medical conditions.

No communities are threatened by fire, although changing winds were expected to blow smoke into Uranium City today. Five fires are out of control. To date, almost 585,000 hectares have burned.

Seventy-seven fires are still burning, with eight extinguished since Sunday and four new ones reported.

Evacuees should be returning to homes in the same shape they left them. Staff Sgt. Joe Milburn of the Pelican Narrows RCMP detachment said more people stayed behind than were evacuated.

“You would probably not even notice people have been evacuated. There’s still lots and lots of people around.”

The detachment has not received complaints of looting or damage to property owned by evacuees, he said.

The air has been clean of smoke for several days, he said.

Deschambault Lake residents arrived home Sunday night. Const. Clint Kondra said he’s aware of only one report of crime related to the evacuations. A man was caught in the process of breaking into an empty house.

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