Skip to content

NAN calls for state of emergency as forest fires rage in NWO

Thousands of residents of Pikangikum First Nation, Deer Lake First Nation and Poplar Hills First Nation are awaiting evacuation to escape the fire and smoke.

THUNDER BAY -- Nishnawbe Aski Nation has asked the province of Ontario to call a state of emergency as forest fires continue to threaten more communities.

Fires have led to the evacuation of Poplar Hills First Nation, Pikangikum First Nation and Deer Lake First Nation,with Red Lake on high alert. Hundreds of residents of the three First Nations have relocated to other communities, including Thunder Bay. Up to 5,000 people remain to be airlifted from the First Nation communities alone.

Bearskin Lake, Sachigo Lake and North Spirit Lake are on high alert.

“This situation is worsening by the hour. Three of our communities have been forced to evacuate, and if fire conditions and behaviour continue on current course the potential for full scale evacuations of several communities is a reality. This is quickly becoming a NAN-wide emergency and requires an immediate, coordinated response,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, in a release issued on Monday night. 

“The City of Thunder Bay took quick action declaring a state of emergency over the weekend that has allowed them to accommodate some of the evacuees from our communities, and we are grateful. It is time for the province to do the same so the appropriate personnel, equipment and supports can be mobilized before this situation becomes worse. Lives are at stake, there is no time to waste.”

Fiddler said the state of emergency is necessary to activate a proper response from the province, including the aircraft and watercraft needed to get his people to safety. More than 60 forest fires are currently burning in Northwestern Ontario, including several within kilometres of NAN communities.

Clarification: The story initially said Red Lake residents have evacuated. The township have warned residents to be ready to evacuate.


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
Read more

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks