The Vice President of Operations for the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency says the fire threatening Prince Albert and surrounding area has been named the Cloverdale Fire which started around 3 o’clock Monday afternoon off Cloverdale Road approximately 4 kilometres north of Prince Albert.
Steve Roberts says due to high temperatures and a 50 to 70 kilometres per hour wind, the fire grew throughout the day and into the evening. The Cloverdale fire currently encompasses 3,694 hectares. He says resources deployed include ground engine units, ground crews, multiple air tanker groups and heavy equipment which will continue to work on the fire throughout today.
Roberts says the fire is not currently contained, “We have no reports of significant structural loss, from this fire. We have put up value protection units which are sprinkler units, on fifteen homes and structures in the area, and they have all been successful at this time.” He says they are also working with SaskEnergy as far as gas shut off in areas of concern.
How the fire started has not been determined. Some roads have been closed to help fire crews so residents are advised to check the Highway Hotline to determine which roads are traversable.
Roberts expects the cooler temperatures in the forecast after Tuesday will help in controlling the fire. He says the closest it got to Prince Albert was at its origin about 4 kilometres northeast of the city. Roberts explains the fire is heading north and east of the city towards farmland. He notes that will be easier to contain because it doesn’t have as much fuel. Crews have been able to contain the northern edges. There are not reports of structure loss.
A spokesperson with SaskPower, Joel Cherry, says about 9,000 customers are without power, and there is no estimated time for when it will be restored because the fire remains active, so there are safety and logistical challenges. He adds that the power outage runs from Prince Albert all the way up to La Ronge because there is only one transmission line that serves the area.
Cherry says the challenge is the widespread geography of the north. Transmission lines carry higher voltage power to the sub stations, which then distributes the power to the various communities. Cherry says ten transmission structures have been damaged.
The key message from the City of Prince Albert and the RMs of Garden River and Buckland is for evacuees from the Cloverdale Fire to register as soon as possible by calling the Margo Fournier Centre at 306-953-4816 or register in person at the Centre, 1211 1st Avenue West.
P.A. Fire Department Chief Kris Olsen understands that some people may have found alternative arrangements to the hotel accommodations provided by the province last night. He hopes they will register to provide a line of communication with evacuees. He adds that those who have had to leave their homes should be prepared not to return at least for another night.
The City says 28 evacuees were accommodated in hotels last night, while the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is reporting 29. After the initial response to the fire on Monday afternoon, the Prince Albert Fire Department began working on fire breaks early early this morning (Tues), and on sprinkling residential structures, which Olsen says has been effective.