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Saskatchewan wildfire grows to 400 square kilometres

Thursday, May 21st 2020, 12:30 pm - The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency says ground crews and aircraft are fighting the blaze.

A raging wildfire in a remote area east of Prince Albert has grown to more 400 square kilometres — a 10 per cent increase from Tuesday.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) says ground crews and aircraft are fighting the blaze.

"We actually can see pretty much all the flames happening, especially at night and the smoke definitely affects us towards the evening when the wind picks up," Falyn Swensen, who lives in Kininstino, Sask., said.

RELATED: Officials wrestle with how to help people displaced by wildfires during COVID-19

Swensen said she lives less than 20 kilometres away from the fire and knows many people who live closer and are concerned.

"It's actually kind of scary even though it's not close enough to touch us," Swensen said.

Swensen said she can't go outside when it's smoky because it is too much for her asthma. She said the smoke prevents her family from spending much time working with their cattle and other animals.

The SPSA says that so far no one has been forced from their home, but rural municipalities in the area including the RMs of Torch River and Garden River are on alert.

Marg Richardson, who lives in the area, said she's worried about how people could be safely evacuated during a pandemic.

"I feel for them because I sure wouldn't [want to]," she said.

Fort A La Corne fire Residents who live nearby watch the flames in northern Saskatchewan. (Dalbert Turner Ballantyne/Facebook)

Richardson has seen the smoke-tinted sky and has been hearing from farmers.

"In the evening when it was dark ... we could see the red sky," she said.

"It was quite concerning because hearing from the five farmers in Smeaton, it seemed like they were doing a lot of the battling by themselves and they never did see any water bombers going over anything."

Richardson said the wind changed and started blowing the fire back toward where it had already burned, giving her some relief.

Saskatchewan wildfire Chris LaFaver, farms near the site of the fire in northern Saskatchewan, snapped this picture of the smoke-tinted sky. (Submitted by Chris LaFaver)

"I just wish the wind would die down," Richardson said. "And it would rain some more."

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the SPSA believes it was started by people.

Thumbnail courtesy of Dalbert Turner Ballantyne/Facebook.

The story was written by Heidi Atter/CBC News and was originally published for CBC.ca.

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