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Evacuation of NW Ontario Community Continues

Wildfires are forcing people to evacuate from Pikangikum, a remote northwestern Ontario First Nations community. Wildfires are forcing people to evacuate from Pikangikum, a remote northwestern Ontario First Nations community. |  Photo: WDIO-TV

Updated: June 03, 2019 05:44 PM

The evacuation of a remote northwestern Ontario First Nations community continued for a fifth day Monday as firefighters kept up the battle against flames on the edge of town.

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The fire near Pikangikum has now burned 3,835 hectares (9,476 acres).  Besides the threat of fire, the smoke is also causing high levels of air pollution in Pikangikum and several other regional communities.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation says about 2,000 people had been evacuted from the community as of Monday morning.  That's about half of the town's population.

So many people have been evacuated that eight host communities in Ontario have run out of space.  The C-130 Hercules military aircraft instead began taking people to Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Sunday.

Pikangikum has also been without phone and internet service since last week because the fire damaged a communications line.  Eight other communities also lost internet service.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says crews are working on the flanks of the fire closest to Pikangikum and working to set up sprinklers on homes, buildings, and infrastructure as a precautionary measure.

The community is about 500 kilometers (about 310 miles) northwest of Thunder Bay by air and is not connected to the road system.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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