Evacuations from Pikangikum First Nation hit 1,500 as nearby wildfire rages


The Canadian Armed Forces says its airlift of evacuees from Pikangikum is expected to continue today because of the wildfire that is still raging near the northern Ontario First Nation.

The military said in a release late last night that it flew another 640 residents out Saturday aboard Hercules transport planes — taking them to Sioux Lookout and Kapuskasing.

It said about 15-hundred members of the fly-in community 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay community — those most at risk to the effects of smoke from the wildfire — have been evacuated so far.

Officials said the fire grew to about 36 square kilometres yesterday, but favourable winds were keeping it away from the community.

There is no rain in today’s Environment Canada forecast, however, periods of rain and showers are expected both tomorrow and Tuesday.

Alvin Fiddler, grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nation communities across northern Ontario, has said the forest fire has damaged the broadband communications line running through the area, knocking out phone and internet service.

Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for the Pikangikum area, warning that high levels of air pollution are possible due to smoke from the fire.

“Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk,” the agency said.


The Canadian Press