Provincial cabinet minister Greg Rickford -- who is also the member for Kenora District -- says he's watching the forest fire near Whitedog First Nation carefully...

"I continue to monitor the situation closely and appreciate the firefighters that are on this," he said, during a media conference Friday.

He noted the province is responding with aircraft, helicopters and crews on the ground.

Between 70 and 80 elders, children and First Nation members who had trouble breathing were evacuated from Wabaseemoong to Wauzhushk Onigum late Thursday and early Friday. Community leaders are watching closely, in case the rest of the First Nation members need to be evacuated.

Kenora Fire 71 is now more than 9,000 hectares in size, and it continues to burn out of control north of Whitedog. Firefighters were busy building a base camp at Minaki yesterday.

The wind was coming from a different direction Friday and Saturday, easing concerns the whole community of Whitedog might be evacuated. Volunteers at Wauzhushk Onigum reported Saturday they were getting good support from neighbouring communities. Elders and children have been staying in homes from Rat Portage to Winnipeg, as they wait for the fire to be put out.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is advising the public of an Emergency Area Order for the area around Kenora Fire 71 to ensure public safety. As a result, the order restricts travel on Werner Lake Road, as well as Crown land use and travel within the boundaries of the Emergency Area Order.

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