English Fire east of Prince Albert mapped at 40,000 hectares

The English Fire, a wildfire east of Prince Albert and west of Nipawin, continues to grow since it first began on May 8 near the Fort à la Corne forest.

On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency announced they have mapped the fire at 40,000 hectares – about the size of Saskatoon and Regina combined. It’s a ten per cent increase from Tuesday’s size.

Steve Roberts, acting vice president with the SPSA, said during a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon that a number of equipment and staff have been deployed to try and control the fire with more crews arriving.

“There are more crews on the way that are already pre-trained. We are also bringing in more government staff to augment what we can do on the ground,” announced Roberts.

“A lot of it has to do with fire behaviour, where we can put crews safely at any given time. But currently, we are not having a recruitment issue.”

(Image: Government of Saskatchewan)

Roberts added that resources are not being stretched at this time. Among the resources they are using include an incident command team, aerial ignition specialist team, 29 SPSA staff, six five-person crews tied to community First Nations crews.

The agency has also allocated eight helicopters, 12 bulldozers and nine crew trucks and engines. A water-scooping aircraft and four fire-retardant aircrafts are available at the Prince Albert airstrip if more support is needed.

To date, no permanent residents have been evacuated from any of the impacted rural municipalities. However Roberts said extensive smoke is starting to affect more communities.

“It is travelling southwest from the fire, impacting as far south as Saskatoon. We will see that smoke move westward through the Prince Albert area as we move into the evening. By tonight, all that smoke will be moving northward.”

The RM of Torch River and RM of Garden River have issued a Sask Alert wildfire emergency to notify residents about the wildfire and smoke. The James Smith Cree Nation has an advisory for smoke and considered evacuating elders, but officials decided to keep them in a local area within the community where the SPSA has provided air scrubbers for fresh air management.

Roberts noted if evacuations are necessary, the Ministry of Social Services will support those who seek help.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Roberts said it is not lightning caused and investigators believe it was caused by humans at this time.

The government’s active wildfire map shows there are currently two wildfires that are not contained in the province. The second is named PELICN01 and is located west of Pelican Narrows.

More from 620 CKRM