The threat of a wildfire that forced about 60 families from their homes has abated, at least for now.
An evacuation order issued for the hamlet of Crutwell east of Prince Albert and homes north of Highway 3 at 4 p.m. was lifted late Monday evening.
Residents were told to remain on standby to leave again. People living in the nearby community of Holbein, about 30 kilometres west of Prince Albert – and those residing along and south of Highway 3 – were also being advised to remain on standby for a possible evacuation if the situation escalates.
People living on the Wahpeton Dakota Nation were also put on high alert for the possibility of an evacuation.
‘It’s scary:’ residents describe rush to evacuate
Dave Rondeau and his family live in Crutwell, a community of about 57 people. He spoke with 650 CKOM while gathering the last of his belongings on Monday.
“Just had a guy fly through town here, everyone is in a bit of a panic,” he said. “Everybody is trying to get everything that’s not insured out of town.”
Rondeau, his wife and three adult children — along with the family dogs — were heading to stay with friends nearby. He said they were prepared to move since the blaze started over the weekend.
“We’ve had a couple days, like I’ve been out parked on top of a hill where I can monitor the whole situation,” he said. “So we’ve been pacing ourselves. We were semi-ready to go when I got the order.”
People who can self-evacuate were told to leave through Highway 3 to the Shellbrook Senior Hall, on the corner of Railway Avenue and Main Street in Shellbrook, to register and receive further instructions. Anyone in need of assistance is asked to call 306-747-2178.
Patty Thole arrived at the evacuation centre in Shellbrook shortly after the order and said everyone was a little scared and nervous
“It’s scary – you look behind us and there was just smoke billowing behind our trees and you just don’t know what to think,” Thole said.
It was a tense afternoon for Mathew Bird as he watched smoke tower higher over his backyard with ash raining down on parts of Crutwell.
“I grabbed what I could and loaded it up in the back of my van and we took off,” he said.
Helicopters swooped in and out dumping water on the eastern edge of the fire to stop its progress.
On standby in Holbein, Robin Schillington loaded up his camper with suitcases.
“Since it’s kind of been going in all different directions, you never know what it’s going to do tomorrow,” he said Monday.
Schillington said it was tough explaining the situation to his four-year-old son.
“He was worried about all his toys and worried about burning last night but we had to reassure him he was going to be OK,” he said.
The province said wildfires, which started May 12, continued to burn in the Rural Municipality of Shellbrook, southwest of Holbein, Monday. According to the ministry of environment, the fire breached the east flank Monday afternoon, triggering the evacuation order.
The immediate cause of the fire is not yet known, but conditions were hot and windy all day Saturday.
The temperature is expected to hit 29-degrees Tuesday afternoon with winds up to 30 kilometres m per hour. The weather conditions could make it difficult for the dozens of fire crews trying to contain the blaze, which is 15 square kilometres or about twice the size of Warman.
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Chris Vandenbreekel and Daniella Ponticelli.