Canada — About half the 1,000 residents of Deer Lake First Nation are now living hundreds of kilometres away from their homes after forest fires forced the partial evacuation of the remote community in northwest Ontario.
Smoke was pouring into the community and flames were getting dangerously close to the airport on Thursday when leaders decided on a partial evacuation.
Canadian military planes helped transport the sick and elderly, babies and their parents to Greenstone, Ont., located about 600 kilometres to the southeast.
Deer Lake Deputy Chief Randy Meekis told CBC News the smoke has abated somewhat since the evacuation but said the fire can still be seen from the lake.
“They contained the fire that’s close by and they’re working on the other one so spirits are high right now,” he said.
But it could be days or even weeks before residents can return to Deer Lake and several other fly-in First Nations communities in the area surrounded by blazing trees.
Deb Mclean of Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources said recent rains have helped diminish the dozens of fires in the area, but said the showers often come with lightning that can spark more fires.
“Some fires are smouldering whereas some, a flank of a fire, may kick up and you have to do water bomber action on it,” she said.
For now, the evacuees will remain at the recreation centre in Greenstone.