The northern Saskatchewan village of Pelican Narrows is ordering everyone out of the community.
Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Peter Beatty signed the mandatory evacuation order Tuesday evening as smoke from northern forest fires intensified.
“We got a lot of people out, but we don’t know how many,” Beatty said Wednesday morning as he prepared for a day of meetings and planning.
Early Wednesday morning, all roads in and out of the community of several thousand were closed after fire crossed them, he said. That includes the highway south to Prince Albert, north to the PBCN community, Sandy Bay, and east to Flin Flon.
Beatty and vice-chief Harold Linklater told CBC News that any others fleeing Pelican Narrows will have to take a boat across the lake.
Linklater is helping those staying in Prince Albert. He said the smoke was unbearable and the fires visible when he left Tuesday.
“The fire was getting too darn close. We don’t want to take any risks,” Linklater said.
“I’m not feeling too good about it. I’m worried about the people who decided to stay.”
Linklater said he’s worried about the firefighters and others who have remained.
“I’m grateful to those who are risking their lives for our community,” he said.
On Tuesday, roughly 450 people from Pelican Narrows with health concerns were driven to Saskatoon. People with babies, elderly people and people with breathing problems were all taken out of the community.
Provincial officials estimate another 1,100 people will be leaving the community Wednesday. Of those, 500 people will be travelling to hotels and shelters in Saskatoon and another 600 people will be staying in hotels in Prince Albert.
Anyone who choses to stay behind are being asked to contact Pelican Narrows security and the RCMP.
Pelican Narrows is one of several communities of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, one of Saskatchewan’s largest First Nations.
Pelican Narrows is located approximately 500 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
Prepared to leave
Meanwhile, other people in the area are getting ready to flee their homes if they have to.
Moira Davis lives in nearby Creighton, and has already started…