DEER LAKE – “Our government has responded swiftly to an urgent request from the Province of Ontario as a result of this serious situation facing the community of Deer Lake,” stated Vic Toews, the federal Minister of Public Safety. “At this time, two Canadian Forces CC-130 Hercules aircraft from 435 Squadron based at 17 Wing Winnipeg are assisting with evacuation efforts in the area. To quickly respond to this life-threatening emergency, the Commander of Canada Command, Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, declared a major Search and Rescue operation, deploying air assets within two hours of the request for assistance. Residents will be evacuated to Greenstone, Ontario”.
Toews adds, “We are also closely monitoring the situation through the Government Operations Centre, and will continue to work closely with the Province of Ontario to identify any other issues and to offer any further assistance that may be required.”
“We’re collaborating very closely with our First Nations and federal partners to ensure the safety of Deer Lake residents. This evacuation will help take the most vulnerable members of the community out of harms way,” added Jim Bradley, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) is working with First Nations officials, provincial ministries, federal departments and the Canadian Forces to evacuate Deer Lake residents who are most at risk from nearby forest fires.
Forest fires are burning 3.5 kilometres from the remote northwest Ontario community, sending plumes of smoke into the area.
At the request of the Deer Lake Band Council, the province is coordinating with federal and military officials the evacuation of Deer Lake residents whose health is most at risk due to the smoke. It is expected that approximately 480 residents will be immediately airlifted by Canadian Forces aircraft to Greenstone, Ontario.
Emergency Management Ontario is coordinating the overall provincial efforts: Crews from the Ministry of Natural Resources are fighting the fires with water bombers and are planning the evacuation of Deer Lake with the Canadian Forces.
Personnel from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care are working with federal counterparts to ensure medical services are available to those who need them.