SASKATOON - Four days after blazing Saskatchewan forest fires began forcing residents of northern communities from their homes, another 650 evacuees were being sent away due to a heavy smoke threat, bringing the total of displaced residents to more than 2,800.

About 250 residents from Pelican Narrows, Sask. - the majority of whom are mothers and children, the elderly and people with health conditions - were evacuated from the community Friday afternoon, with 150 arriving at the Sasktel Soccer Centre in Saskatoon, and 100 at the University of Regina.

Another 400 residents from Sandy Bay, Sask., will be taken out of the area starting this morning.

"It's all still because of the heavy smoke in these areas," said Trish Alcorn of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services.

There's still no word when any evacuees, many of whom have been away from home since Monday, will be returning home.

Continued warm weather and minimal periods of light rain have made firefighting efforts difficult, though direct attacks on several larger blazes have eliminated fire threats on nearby communities.

Because shifting weather conditions can cause wind to blow smoke into communities, it was still unsafe to send residents back to their homes, said Cathy Bulych, director of emergency support services with the Ministry of Social Services.

Saskatchewan's ministries of Environment and Public Safety were advising community members on fire and smoke conditions, but the ultimate decision to bring evacuees home will be made by the local elected officials in the affected areas of Sandy Bay, Pelican Narrows, Deschambault Lake, Black Lake, and Stony Rapids.

"I believe the elected officials are going to take in all of the advice," said Richard Kent, spokesman for the Prince Albert Grand Council, of sending evacuees home. "Right now, it just would not be prudent."

A total of 462 fire personnel, along with 37 helicopters and 18 air tankers were able to put out 15 fires over the course of 24 hours, and sprinkler systems have been set up in those communities closest to the fires, such as Deschambault Lake.

Isaac Meresdy, an elder from Sandy Bay, sat in the shade with three other elders on the University of Saskatchewan campus, trying to keep out of the blazing sun.

"We just plan on sitting here all day, that's all we've been doing the whole time," said Meresdy, who left Sandy Bay on Monday.

Crystal Merasty, also from Sandy Bay, said she was hoping to take her three boys, ages two, ten and 12, to an outdoor swimming pool.

She's still waiting to meet up with her 14-year-old daughter, from whom she was separated Monday night in the frantic attempt to get out of town.

"I didn't even have time to pack my own clothes, I had to pack everything for my boys," she said.

A total of 54 fires are currently raging in Saskatchewan as of Friday, bringing the provincial total this year to 464, compared to the 209 this time last year and 350 for the 10 year average.