Pikangikum Fire Update June 1/19 12:00EDT

Image Canadian Forces Operation Lentus
Image Canadian Forces Operation Lentus

PIKANGIKUM – Efforts to evacuate residents from Pikangikum First Nation are continuing today. There are three Canadian Airforce Hercules aircraft engaged in airlifting residents out of the Northern Ontario community being impacted by Red Lake Fire #14.

According to the military, 580 people had been evacuated aboard three Hercules aircraft during six flights to surrounding communities including Sioux Lookout and Kapuskasing. There are also a number of people self-evacuating to Red Lake by boat. For Pikangikum community members who self-evacuated and in need of assistance and support, please call IFNA at 807-737-1902 or email help@ifna.ca

Chief Amanda Sainnawap reports that a total of 869 people have been evacuated by plane so far.

Evacuation flights with the CC-130 Hercules aircraft began on May 30 and continued on May 31. A contingent of Canadian Rangers is also on site to help get evacuees to the airport and assist with getting them onboard aircraft. More than 200 residents were evacuated to Thunder Bay on the first day, with many more being taken to safe neighbouring communities today as the operation progresses.

The Province of Ontario remains the overall lead on evacuations from Pikangikum First Nation, and also has civil aircraft assisting in the effort. We will continue to work with our Province of Ontario counterparts until there is no further need for emergency military support.

While there were reports that the Internet was down and local phone service was impacted, sources on the ground advise the Internet and cell phones are working.

Sioux Lookout Update

The Sioux Lookout Airport is serving as the Hub for evacuations. Brian McKinnon the spokesperson for Emergency Services in Sioux Lookout would like to thank local residents who have reached out to volunteer.

McKinnon says that for June 1/19 as of 11:15CDT they have sufficient volunteers. The volunteer co-ordinator is Amy Hautz and she can be reached at 807-737-8766.

Brian McKinnon advises if you don’t get a phone call back right away to please be patient. They will get back to you and they do appreciate all the support and help.

Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES) spokesperson Chris Marchand says that for the past two days there have been no new fires in the far north.

Cooler temperatures are helping fire rangers.

The forecast in the region is calling for cloudy skies with a 60 percent chance of showers. Winds north 20 km/h gusting to 40 with a High of 11. For tonight Environment Canada is calling for mainly cloudy skies. There is a 40 percent chance of showers overnight. Winds north 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light this evening. The overnight low plus 2.

Pikangikum is keeping this operation going with the help of amazing community members right from Chief and Council to the Canadian Rangers, to individual community members. While the situation is not one anyone would want to be a part of, evacuating the community, the community is rallying and helping each other. It is a positive thing to report on and hear about.