PIKANGIKUM – The evacuation efforts in Pikangikum First Nation continued on Sunday.
Chris Marchand, the Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES) Information Officer reports, “Red Lake 14 near Pikangikum First Nation is now 3360.8 hectares in size. Assisted by firefighting aircraft, 16 FireRanger crews continue to suppress the fire that is burning to the south and east of the community as well as protect values in the area. The fire is not yet under control. Successful aerial ignition operations were completed on Saturday on the southwestern side of the fire and an incident management team will be assigned to the fire early in the week.”
Captain Jenn Halliwell, the Public Affairs Officer for 1 Canadian Air Division / Canadian NORAD Region Headquarters shares, “Our CC-130 Hercules crews continue to support evacuation efforts in Pikangikum First Nation and remain ready to assist in continued evacuations as long as the province of Ontario deems it necessary.
The number of community members requiring evacuation is provided to us daily by the province of Ontario. So far today (June 2) four CC-130 Hercules flights have evacuated a daily total of approximately 269 members of Pikangikum First Nation. Evacuees were brought to the host community of Winnipeg as per the direction of the province of Ontario.
Once our daily flights are complete, we will confirm the number of evacuees and where the province of Ontario directed we take them. In total, the Canadian Armed Forces has airlifted approximately 1,715 evacuees from Pikangikum First Nation via Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules aircraft to host communities as directed by the province of Ontario.
Environment Canada has issued an air quality advisory.
Special air quality statement in effect for:
- Pikangikum – Poplar Hill – MacDowell
Elevated pollution levels are expected or occurring. High levels of air pollution are possible due to smoke from forest fires.
Smoke plumes from a forest fire east of Pikangikum have resulted in deteriorated air quality in the area. Very light northerly winds have been affecting the area, but they are expected to become more southerly or southeasterly by Monday which may bring the smoke back into the Pikangikum area.
The town of Red Lake and surrounding areas may experience smoke today and tonight before the wind shifts.
Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.