Southend wildfire evacuees to temporarily call P.A. home

By Bryan Eneas
June 20, 2018 - 12:00pm

Evacuees from a wildfire near Southend, some 400 kilometres north of Melfort, are making Prince Albert their temporary home.

An evacuation order was issued last night by the Prince Albert Grand Council and the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in response to smoke concerns in Southend. 

Wilson Dumais left Southend with his pregnant girlfriend last night.

“She's in her third trimester now, and I know we didn't want to wait any longer than we had to,” he said.

Dumais said the smoke situation wasn't too bad yesterday, however, throughout the week there have been some difficult times for his girlfriend. Now that she's in a cooler area away from the smoke, he said she's doing better.

The couple travelled through the night to reach the Prince Albert Inn. Now they, like roughly 200 others, are waiting to learn what their next steps will be.

He said he knew of a few individuals who stayed behind in the community in order to tend to animals and personal property left behind in the evacuation.

“It's a community, and we're all family,” he said. “For the help that they're doing, it's a great feeling to have them on our side.”

Randy Morin also left the community as the smoke grew thicker. He said he was ready to leave the community early last night, but left with the community busses around 3 a.m. June 20.

Morin said he will wait for the fire to calm down before heading back north. It's a situation he's experienced before.

“It happened to me before,” Morin said, noting he was part of a wildfire evacuation in Sandy Bay roughy five years ago.

As per a memorandum of understanding signed between the Red Cross and the Prince Albert Grand Council earlier this year, Red Cross officials were offering their help at the P.A. Inn. Staff there said they expected roughly 200 people to check in at the Prince Albert hotel.

According to the Ministry of Environment, 163 evacuees arrived in Prince Albert by bus. Roughly 400 more came in private vehicles, the ministry said, though not all of them are expected to check in with the Red Cross.


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