Pikangikum Wildfire Evacuation Underway

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Sergeant Buster Kurahara commands the Pikangikum Ranger patrol.
Canadian Rangers escor evacuees from a school bus to an RCAF Hercules aircraft.

Pikangikum, Ontario – Yesterday, the community of Pikangikum issued an Emergency Declaration due to the threat of fire and smoke from numerous forest fires in the region, some of which are converging on the community.

Chief Dean Owen and Council are requesting that “All of the most vulnerable population be evacuated immediately”.

Pikangikum has have also directed our Tribal Council, the Independent First Nations Alliance (IFNA), to “Activate an Emergency Operations Centre to assist the community both with the evacuation and make further plans to protect the community from smoke and fire spread.”

The evacuations began last night with eight of the most vulnerable community members being transported out of Pikangikum, after which a second flight was cancelled due to weather.

500 to 800 vulnerable people from the community are preparing to leave as soon as flights and accommodations
can be found.

This evacuation, the third this community has faced in three years, comes amidst numerous fires spreading throughout Northern Ontario causing the evacuation of other remote communities simultaneously.

“Our community is currently in a race against time,” states Chief Dean Owen, “With so many communities being evacuated due to the fires, we are all competing for limited resources and space. As Northern Ontario’s largest community we need to get our at-risk population out of the community to ensure their safety, and we need to keep working towards ensuring that the rest of community is safe.”