Pikangikum – Red Lake Fire #14 Update 12:00 EDT May 31/19

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Fire at Pikangikum First Nation
Fire at Pikangikum First Nation

PIKANGIKUM – Red Lake fire #14 is now 2.5 kilometres from the airport at Pikangikum. The fire is under attack, with both Fire Rangers and water bombers engaged in the fight.

Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan advises that a third RDAF Hercules aircraft is being deployed from Canadian Forces Base Trenton. There have been 300 people evacuated so far with the assistance of both community members and the Canadian Rangers.

It is expected that up to 1600 people will be evacuated today. The Hercules aircraft can take out 88 people per flight, which means that there needs to be about eighteen flights out today.

Thunder Bay, Kapuskasing, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Cochrane, Timmins and Hearst are the host cities for evacuees. Sioux Lookout declared a State of Emergency in order to marshal the needed resources as both a hub city and host city. As a “hub” community, Sioux Lookout will receive all of the evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation beginning on May 31, 2019. 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.

Red Lake #14 and fires in the far north are also impacting broadband lines in the area. This could have impact on telephone and Internet communications for Pikangikum along with other First Nation communities.

Bell Canada is on this issue and are working to mitigate the extent of any damage to the fibre-optic network as well as make any needed repairs to telecommunications infrastructure in a timely manner.