The northern Manitoba town of Gillam is choked in forest-fire smoke, but officials have had to stop a voluntary evacuation process for now.

The smoke has been hanging eerily heavy and dark over the town, about 1,000 kilometres north of Winnipeg, for about a week. It has been so dark at times that street lights came on during the day.

Officials in the town had been registering residents as part of a voluntary evacuation, then busing them to hotels some 300 kilometres away in Thompson.

However, the voluntary evacuation was stopped until officials could make sure there were enough hotel rooms in Thompson to accommodate everyone.

So far, 400 people have left their homes, about 300 of which are registered as evacuees.

Emergency officials said some people who have left the town are likely staying with family members in Winnipeg or in other northern communities like Grand Rapids.