Community fighting floods hit with grass fire

Community fighting floods hit with grass fire

08 May 2013

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Canada — More than a dozen people have been forced from their homes on a northwestern Saskatchewan reserve because of a grass fire, even as the community battles flooding.

Emergency officials said Tuesday that 13 people have been evacuated from the Onion Lake Cree Nation, north of Lloydminster.

They’ve been taken to a hotel in Lloydminster, said Deanna Wysoskey, emergency Social Services co-ordinator.

“Those are children and people with health risks who need to move out because of the fire risk,” Wysoskey said. “As soon as they’re told that the risk is gone, they’ll be able to return home.”

Onion Lake was already under a state of emergency due to flooding.

Deputy emergency management commissioner Colin King said crews that were fighting flooding were diverted to help local residents battle the fire.

King said the grass fire was “fairly significant in size.”

According to the province’s Ministry of Environment the risk of fire, across Saskatchewan, has risen.

“Anywhere north, (the) northern half, is in moderate conditions and everything in the southern half of the province is currently in high hazard conditions for wildfire,” said Steve Roberts, executive director of the province’s wildfire management program. “What that’s resulting in is a large number of grass fire occurrences in the last week or so.”

Crews battled a grass fire near Grand Coulee, just west of Regina, on Monday.

A fire also ripped through Grasslands National Park, in southwest Saskatchewan, at the end of April.

Flooding risk is decreasing

Meanwhile water watchers in Saskatchewan are keeping an eye on rising lake levels, but in some areas the worst of the flood threat has passed.

Emergency management commissioner Duane McKay said Tuesday there is some localized flooding as the last of the snow melts and the water moves across land to rivers and streams.

But overall, he said there’s been a decrease in the overall flooding threat.

McKay says the risk was also reduced because people took steps to protect property.

On Tuesday, the Rural Municipality of Corman Park, around Saskatoon, declared a state of emergency due to flooding.

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