166 active wildfires reported in northern Sask, 15 not contained

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A waterbomber flies over a wildfire in the La Ronge area earlier in July.  (Don Somers/CBC - image credit)
A waterbomber flies over a wildfire in the La Ronge area earlier in July. (Don Somers/CBC - image credit)

166 wildfires continue to burn in Saskatchewan and 15 are still not contained as of Sunday afternoon.

While the number of active fires is slightly up from 160 last week, July 18, 2021, the number of uncontained fires is down from 29 last Sunday.

11 wildfires are currently contained, while 177 are being monitored regularly to assess the risk in the area and 23 are active and the focus is on protecting things like infrastructure and cabins, according to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency's (SPSA) website.

Overall there have been 459 wildfires this year, compared to the five-year average of 229.

All active wildfires are currently burning in the northern part of the province.

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency website
Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency website

Firefighting crews have been particularly active north of Smeaton, by highway 106 and the south end of Narrow Hills Provincial Park, where 21,750 hectares were burning as of Saturday, according to the province.

The wildfire is also not contained by Wildcat Hill Provincial Park north of Hudson Bay where 8,341 hectares are affected as well as west of Southend (3,888 hectares).

Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency
Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency

Smoke is impacting visibility and air quality

Highway 9 has reopened, according to the SPSA, but the smoke from a wildfire is impacting visibility and drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes. SPSA reminds the public to reduce speed since crews and equipment may be working in the area.

SPSA also warns about poor air quality in the rural municipality of Hudson Bay including Shoal Lake and Red Earth Reserves, as well as the rural municipality of Porcupine including Porcupine Plain and Weekes.

Elevated pollution levels are expected or occurring, according to a SPSA alert update.

Smoke from the forest fires also reduces visibility for communities near and downwind of the fires.

SPSA advises people to stay inside if they experience breathing difficulties. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, are particularly at risk.

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