Wildfires hurting local economy in La Ronge, Saskatchewan
Monday, July 13, 2015, 7:20 PM - Wildfires have forced many businesses to close in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, and locals say the economic impact has been "devastating."
La Ronge & District Chamber of Commerce President Betty Hutchinson told the Star Phoenix that many businesses in the area are summer-dependent, with spikes in July and August.
The wildfires have caused the community's tourism industry to grind to a halt, with local hotels, restaurants and camping supply stores losing more and more money each day.
Margaret Floch of the La Ronge Co-op Marketplace Food Store, which is operating on a limited schedule, estimates business is down 85 percent since the community was evacuated earlier this month.
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While helicopter companies and organizations involved in the fire-fighting effort have seen an increase in business, the majority of organizations are said to be suffering.
Local experts believe the rest of the year will be a difficult one financially, even if crews are able to get the fire situation under control.
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan uranium mines have been forced to suspend shipments due to the fires, but production has not slowed, a spokesperson for Cameco mines told the Phoenix.
Approximately 13,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in northern Saskatchewan due to wildfire threats. As of Monday, there were 127 active fires in the province.
Saskatchewan has seen 621 fires so far this season, compared to 223 in 2014.