Update – Pikangikum Fire Evacuation Underway

Scene at night in Pikangikum

PIKANGIKUM – The efforts to evacuate residents from Pikangikum First Nation are underway. There are about 3000 total residents in the community with 1200 vulnerable residents.

Host communities for the evacuees include Kapaskasing, Dryden and Thunder Bay.

Sioux Lookout will receive all evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation beginning on May 31, 2019 and continuing through June 1st.

The residents of Pikangikum will be airlifted to Sioux Lookout via the Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 aircraft (the “Hercules”), and then transferred onto Dash-8 aircrafts which have been obtained by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and subsequently flown to Cochrane or other host communities, where they will be accommodated for the duration of the evacuation.

Additionally, should there be delays as a result of weather, pilots “timing out”, or other circumstances, any evacuees at the end of the day who are unable to be transferred to Cochrane or the other host communities will be housed in Sioux Lookout overnight, and will then resume their journey the following morning.

The wild fire near the community has come to under 3 kilometres and people in the community say that there is ash falling in the community, and smoke is impacting residents. “The smoke is extremely thick here, people are getting headaches (myself included), hard to breathe, eyes burning,” reports one source.

Canadian Rangers in Pikangikum bolstered by help are assisting in the evacuation.

Red Lake Fire #14 is located near the eastern boundary of Pikangikum First Nation, approximately 2.5 kilometres east of the community’s airport. The fire is now at 3,320 hectares.

Two CL-415 airtankers and up to 12 FireRanger crews focused their efforts on the fire’s western edge with the aim of preventing it from advancing westward. The fire is not under control.

There have been concerns raised over what have been seen as delays in getting aircraft into the community to evacuate residents. NetNewsLedger is told that a second Canadian Airforce Hercules along with two Chinook helicopters are being deployed. Some residents have evacuated to Red Lake by boat.

Developing…