The city of Prince Albert has ordered residents in around 34 homes just north of the city to evacuate because of a wildfire.
The evacuation order affects many people in the rural municipality of Buckland, Saskatchewan where the fire is raging. Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said hundreds of people have been told to get ready to leave the area if the wind changes.
The fire, which began at around 2.30 p.m CT, had reached around 4km² in size by Monday evening, Dionne said.
“We’re fighting a monster…it’s very dry out there,” Dionne said. “The problem is with a fire of this size, it starts to create its own wind in the front of it as it burns. So that even makes it worse and more dangerous.”
He said the wildfire is at the mercy of the weather, including tomorrow’s high winds.
People who live and work north of highway 55, east of Cloverdale Road and west of the Honeymoon Road are being ordered to evacuate and find their own temporary accommodations by using Highway 2. People are also being directed to the Margo Fournier Centre, 1211 1st Avenue West where they will be asked to register and receive additional instructions.
On Monday evening, Marilyn Boyer packed up valuables from her business, Garden of Dreams Greenhouse, as a fire raged across Highway 55 from her.
“Right now, it’s pretty scary. We’re right across the road from the fire, if it jumped the highway we’ll be …” she said, trailing off. “I’m getting my pictures and everything like that ready right now. Ready to evacuate. Scary. It’s really scary.”
Prince Albert’s city council voted 6:30 p.m. CT to declare a local state of emergency as the fire is it at risk of spreading and required prompt action, the city said.
A spokesperson with the Prince Albert Fire Department said city crews are fighting the fire in the area of Evergreen Road north of Prince Albert, just past Red River Park. Persons are being asked to avoid the area.
Take 3 days of clothing, says mayor
The province has sent three water bombers, a helicopter, spotter plane and firefighters toward the fire.
Dionne is warning persons to take 3 days’ worth of clothing when they leave the area as they may be in a hotel for some days, he said.
One woman drove through the fire while traveling home from her workplace at Candle Lake, some kilometers northeast of Prince Albert.
Madison Simpson, 19, was at her job at a convenience store in the resort community when a blackout hit suddenly. Simpson thought that it was strange so she and her boyfriend, who also work at the store, packed up and went back to Prince Albert.
“The smoke was getting worse and worse and then we realized we’re heading straight towards it,” Simpson said.
“It got scarier and scarier because (the sky) was great blue and we were driving and then out of nowhere it was just dark. There was fire on both sides.”
Simpson said she saw people in vehicles pulling out of their driveways and driving to Prince Albert. She said the sky had an orange blue color, and the experience was similar to something out of a movie.
“We were pretty shook up after it. Now we’re just kind of like, well, that was scary. We’re just hoping that everyone in that area stays safe,” she said.
The Prince Albert Police Service is asking motorists to avoid the area of Highway 55 East, between Prince Albert and the area surrounding Pulp Haul Road because of a large fire in the area.
RCMP members are in the region helping with traffic.
The media contacted nearby Buckland Fire Department but they were unable to comment as the team were fighting the fire.