By The Canadian Press
May 18, 2018, Meadow Lake, Sask. - A wildfire has forced people from their homes in a west-central Saskatchewan community. Residents of the Waterhen Lake First Nation have been asked to evacuate due to an out of control fire burning nearby.
The province says 54 people are staying in Meadow Lake and 122 evacuees are staying in Saskatoon's Henk Ruys Soccer Centre, which the Red Cross has transformed into a shelter.
The fire is burning west of the community in Meadow Lake Provincial Park about 300 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. Fire crews backed by waterbombers have been fighting the blaze, but shifting winds and dry conditions are making it difficult.
Scott Wasylenchuk, the province's director of wildfire operations, says the fire continues to grow.
"There's lots of wind, so it challenged our lines in all directions," he said Wednesday. "There was some access concerns with the one road in and one road out."
Dale Martell, who lives on the reserve, says his community has been covered in smoke.
"At night we saw a flare-up on the tree top. The other morning it flared up again and that's when they called 'a state of emergency."
Martell said he was glad to get out of the smoke to ensure his 16-month-old daughter can breathe. Dry, warm and windy conditions prompted the province to impose a fire ban on Crown land from south of the Churchill River to the U.S. border.