PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – A Saskatchewan First Nation lifted an evacuation order Wednesday, allowing some people to return to their homes that had been threatened by forest fires.
Chief Peter Beatty of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation rescinded the order for the Pelican Narrows community after consultations with the Saskatchewan government.
Smoke in the air remains, so the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with breathing or general health issues will still be kept out.
For those travelling in private vehicles, convoys of 60 were to start Wednesday night.
Ray Unrau, deputy commissioner of emergency management and fire safety, said those with the means can return on their own and fuel allotments will be handed out, though they are being asked to bring their own groceries with them if possible.
The rest will be transported by bus on Thursday.
“Their planning unit does have a contingency of buses on standby and what we will do is we will tailor the amount of buses for the people that we know need rides back,” he said.
Evacuees should check in at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Saskatoon or the Senator Allan Bird Memorial Centre in Prince Albert before heading out.
Deanna Valentine, provincial coordinator for Emergency Social Services, said she wasn’t sure of the exact numbers of those returning home, saying it depends on who is in the priority health group.
“But we expect that the majority of people from Pelican Narrows will be able to go home,” she said. “We may have a thousand people or less left out — the majority will be able to return home.
Officials have said about 2,800 people fled forest fires in northern Saskatchewan and more than two-thirds of them are staying in Prince Albert, while just over 800 are in Saskatoon.
People have been out of their homes since the end of August due to the fires.
The First Nation said in a news release that schools will reopen on Monday.
(The Canadian Press, CJWW)