THUNDER BAY, Ont. – An organization representing 49 First Nations in northern Ontario is urging the province to declare a state of emergency over wildfires that it says are threatening several remote communities.
The Nishnawbe Aski Nation says the declaration is needed to trigger an immediate response to the situation, including aircraft and watercraft for evacuations.
NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says the wildfire situation “is worsening by the hour” and if it continues, full-scale evacuations of several communities will be needed.
Since the weekend, residents of Poplar Hill First Nation and Deer Lake First Nation have been evacuated to Thunder Bay, Ont., and other communities due to the threat posted by two different wildfires.
Fiddler says residents of Pikangikum First Nation are also being evacuated while the communities of Bearskin Lake, Sachigo Lake and North Spirit Lake are on high alert for potential evacuation.
The Ontario government did not immediately respond to request for comment on NAN’s call.
The province says there are currently over 70 forest fires across northwestern Ontario.
Fiddler says many of these are within kilometres of communities that can only be accessed by air or water.
“This is quickly becoming a (Nishnawbe Aski Nation)-wide emergency and requires an immediate, coordinated response,” he said in a statement.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.