Wednesday, August 12th 2020, 6:07 pm - Town officials say around 3,800 people have left, while about 500 remain in the community
Officials in Red Lake Ont., are urging remaining residents to leave the community as a forest fire continues to threaten the northwestern Ontario town.
Since Tuesday evening, the fire has grown less than 100 hectares. However, due to a change in wind patterns, the fire is now burning just two kilometres outside of the town.
Fred Mota, mayor of Red Lake, said the fire is burning at approximately a quarter of a kilometre an hour, and "is heading directly towards the community."
Thoughts are with our OPP members, firefighters & community members in Red Lake battling a forest fire. Municipal officials are working with MNRF, OPP & Emergency Management Ontario Provincial Operations Centre. Official updates for Ontario forest fires: https://t.co/psvaLTmWYy pic.twitter.com/SPY9GMp7cY— OPP Association (@OPPAssociation) August 12, 2020
Mota said the main objective now is to ensure remaining residents in the community safely get to one of multiple host communities in the region.
ABOUT 500 RESIDENTS REMAIN IN COMMUNITY
"There are some stubborn people in the community but we have municipal representation going door knocking to urge residents to leave," said Mota in an interview with CBC.
As of Wednesday afternoon, approximately 3,800 people had left the community, and about 500 remained, Mota said. Red Lake is located about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.
Mota said an airplane that can transport up to 115 people per trip to Thunder Bay is on standby in the community. As of Wednesday afternoon, Highway 105, a main roadway in Red Lake was still accessible.
On Tuesday, the City of Thunder Bay committed to hosting 400 to 450 evacuees from Red Lake, but as of Wednesday morning, only about 54 had arrived in the city. Other host communities in the region include Dryden and Kenora.
FIRE CREWS PREPARE TO PROTECT PROPERTY, 'CULTURAL VALUE SITES'
As the fire inches closer to Red Lake, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said at least four crews are actively working on property and structural protection.
Ministry officials said crews are "assessing structures and cultural value sites" and are setting up sprinklers in the community as required.