Evacuees forced to leave their northwestern Ontario First Nation due to forest fires will start arriving in Timmins today.
In order to access additional resources and provincial aid, the City of Timmins is also declaring a state of emergency.
For this phase of the evacuation, 150 people from Pikangikum First Nation will be temporarily housed in Timmins, according to the city. The first phase includes the elderly and people with small children.
The Ramada Inn is the host site for evacuees. It is not known how long people will be staying in Timmins, however, the city noted evacuations typically run two to three weeks. Timmins may accept additional evacuees as the situation develops.
“Our local team has acted fast to help,” said Tom Laughren, fire chief and emergency management coordinator. “A state of emergency will help us provide a coordinated and immediate emergency response to support evacuees. We know that we can host all 150 individuals safely and will continue to closely monitor the situation along with our local health unit and community partners.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Porcupine Health Unit is working to make sure there are precautions to minimize the risk of exposures.
Today, the province declared an Emergency Area Order for all of northwestern Ontario.
An Emergency Area Order gives the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry the authority to take special measures to ensure the safety of people and the protection of property.
As of Tuesday evening, there were 79 active forest fires in northwestern Ontario, including 30 not under control.
The ministry reported 18 new fires on Tuesday in the Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Kenora, Dryden, Thunder Bay and Nipigon districts.
Hundreds of residents of three First Nation communities have already been evacuated because of nearby fires.