‘A race against time’: First Nations, towns in northwestern Ontario prepare to evacuate as wildfires approach – by Logan Turner (CBC News Thunder Bay – July 14, 2021)


First Nations and towns in northwestern Ontario are monitoring the weather forecast and making urgent plans for evacuations as firefighting crews race to bring wildfires across the region under control.

“Our community is in a race against time,” said Pikangikum First Nation Chief Dean Owen in a written statement. “With so many communities being evacuated due to the fires, we are all competing for limited resources and space.”

The First Nation, which is about 100 kilometres northwest of Red Lake, Ont., and has an on-reserve population of more than 3,000, declared a state of emergency on Monday night, and requested that about 500 to 800 “vulnerable people” be evacuated from Pikangikum. It marks the third time in three years community members have been forced to flee due to forest fire and smoke threats.

The former chief of Pikangikum, Amanda Sainnawap, was among the few who were able to leave the First Nation on Monday evening, by taking a half-hour boat ride to Taxi Bay on the mainland, which offers access to Nungessar Road, the only road leading south to Red Lake and the provincial highway network.

A community-wide evacuation has also been underway for several days in Poplar Hill, a fly-in First Nation near the Ontario-Manitoba border about 120 kilometres north of Red Lake, Ont., and there are ongoing evacuation efforts for the vulnerable population living in Deer Lake First Nation. Both have declared states of emergency and a number of other First Nations are on high alert.

For the rest of this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/nwo-evacuations-july-2021-1.6101849