Highway 673 to Shoal Lake is open again. Traffic began flowing just before 9:30 this evening.
Members of Shoal Lake 39 waited patiently, as police worked with forest fire crews Saturday afternoon. Emergency crews had set up a roadblock along the road to the community, after the fire jumped across the highway earlier in the day.
Debbie MacLean from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said Saturday afternoon four water bombers and three firefighter crews had been called in to fight the forest fire, which started a few kilometres north of the Shoal Lake 39. Two of the water bombers were called in from Pickle Lake, but only one was used. Police closed the road to the community as a precaution, and members were put on evacuation alert, said MacLean.
"It is several kilometres away from the community itself," she said, noting the high winds are causing the flames to spread to the north, which is away from the First Nation.
By 5 o'clock, the fire had reached 350 hectares in size, MacLean noted. It had crossed the road to Shoal Lake 39, and it was about 4 kilometres from the Trans-Canada. She warned motorists there may be smoke from the fire obscuring vision along Hwy. 17, as flames approached from the south.
The ministry got the call shortly after 2 o'clock this afternoon. The OPP initially reported the Trans-Canada was closed in both directions near the site of the fire, along with the road to the First Nation at Shoal Lake 39.
However, traffic was open in both directions shortly before 4 o'clock, while the road to Shoal Lake 39 remained closed. Smoke from the fire could be seen from as far away as Kenora. Motorists driving by could also smell the burning fire.