Door opens to more aid for Saskatchewan ranchers hit by fall wildfires
REGINA - The Saskatchewan government is providing financial assistance to ranchers who suffered uninsurable losses when their grazing land was damaged by wildfires earlier this fall.
Government Relations Minister Larry Doke says in a release that producers who lost property can apply to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program for aid feeding livestock.
Doke says grazing land is not insurable for losses due to fire, so the move will fill a gap and help producers' operations recover sooner.
An extreme wind drove the Oct. 17 grassfires near Burstall, Tompkins and Leader that burned more than 360-square kilometres of mixed-used farmland and killed around 750 cattle for an estimated loss of about $1 million.
Most of the damage was insurable, but the government says some types of grazing land may qualify for aid under the assistance program.
The province announced last month that it would be matching donations up to $100,000 to the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association Wildfire Relief Fund, which was created to help producers affected by the grassfires.
The Saskatchewan disaster assistance fund helps residents, small businesses, agricultural operations, First Nations, non-profit organizations and communities recover from natural disasters.
The program may help cover the cost of uninsurable essential losses, cleanup, repairs and temporary relocation.
Hundreds of damage claims rolled into Saskatchewan Government Insurance in the days following the fires.
The blazes also took a human toll. About 900 people were ordered out of the town of Leader as a precaution while an evacuation order was also issued for Burstall, which has a population of 300.
James Hargrave, a volunteer firefighter from Alberta, was killed when the water truck he was driving rolled before being hit by a pickup truck.
Ron Wedrick and his son, Evan, were burned while fighting a fire on their land near Gull Lake. Both were airlifted to a Calgary hospital for treatment of severe injuries.
SaskPower said there were 12,000 calls about outages and 50 per cent of the electrical grid was affected by the wind.