Heavy smoke continues to interfere with firefighting efforts in northern Saskatchewan.
There were 24 active wildfires in the provinces north as of Tuesday afternoon. Five of the fires were considered uncontained by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).
During a morning update to news media, SPSA operations vice president Steve Roberts said the smoke is also making it hard to monitor the blazes.
These fires are extremely aggressive because of the spring conditions, Roberts said.
[The smoke] has greatly curtailed some of our activity both to get into these fires and get crews on the ground but also to asess where we might have risks and threats.
The Shaw fire, which forced evacuations from Buffalo Narrows and other nearby communities due to smoke has grown to more than 100,700 hectares. The wildfire sat at around 25,000 hectares just over a week ago.
In addition to firefighters, helicopters and air tanker support have been deployed in the fight against the blaze, according to SPSA president Marlo Pritchard. He said some rain fell on the fire overnight.
Pritchard said two highways were also closed as of Tuesday morning due to wildfires.
Highway 910 is closed from the junction of 165 to Besnard Lake … Highway 911 is closed from Highway 106 to Deschambault Lake, Pritchard said.
According to Pritchard, mop up work is underway on the northeast side of the Vermette fire near Dillion, St. Georges Hill and Michel Village.
He said the agency is supporting 500 evacuees currently staying in Lloydminster, North Battleford and Regina.
The SPSA total does not include residents who may have left in their own vehicles and have found their own accommodations.
The number of wildfires for the season has been significantly above-average. There have been 184 wildfires so far this year, compared to 106 — the five-year average.
We often have a number of fires, but rarely do they get as large as this, Roberts said.
Primarily due to the shortage of spring rain and lack of green-up allows these fires to grow quickly, Roberts said.