Wildfire evacuees from northern Ontario start arriving in Saskatchewan

REGINA — Officials in Saskatchewan say some evacuees from forest fires in northwestern Ontario have started arriving in Regina.

The Prairie province has agreed to take about 2,000 residents from the Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario as a growing forest fire rages nearby.

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The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says the fire has grown to more than 507 square kilometres.

Officials in Saskatchewan say the first flight of evacuees arrived in Regina this morning and another seven flights are scheduled to land today.

Up to 500 evacuees will be taken to the University of Regina dorms and 150 hotel rooms have been booked in the city to accommodate others.

Both Saskatoon and Prince Albert are on standby to receive additional evacuees.

"We are expecting 400 people will be arriving in Regina today by plane," Deanna Valentine, provincial co-ordinator for emergency social services with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services, said during a conference call Thursday.

She said the Red Cross will help evacuees get settled in Regina and the Ontario government is sending interpreters to make sure they are kept informed.

"These people speak mainly Ojibway so the government of Ontario will be sending English and Ojibway interpreters with the evacuees to help with their transition to Saskatchewan and keep them updated on the situation back home."

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