Fire forces evacuation of 8-10 homes in Lac du Bonnet, Man.

A helicopter and seven water bombers were used to fight a wildfire that forced the evacuation of seven homes in Lac du Bonnet, Man., on Tuesday night.

Students on school bus unable to get home; threat looms large over eastern Manitoba

A wildfire near Lac du Bonnet, seen in this May 15 photo, forced the evacuation of several homes. (Province of Manitoba)

Several people were forced from their homes Tuesday afternoon as another wildfire rages in parched eastern Manitoba.

Officials say eight to 10 homes near Lac du Bonnet, about 80 kilometres east of Winnipeg, were evacuated for safety reasons at about 3:30 p.m. as a bush fire took hold northwest of the community. 

Evacuees were invited to stay at the local legion but have since been allowed to return home, said fire Chief David Lussier.

Seven water bombers and a helicopter were called in to fight the blaze, which grew to about four kilometres in length.

"We had Lac du Bonnet fire crews attacking," said Lussier. Manitoba Sustainable Development wildfire crews also helped.

School bus turned back

Earl Simmons, Manitoba Sustainable Development's regional field supervisor for eastern Manitoba, said eight to 10 homes were on standby for possible evacuation Tuesday, while some children were forced to return to school that afternoon because they couldn't get home.

"A school bus had to be turned back," he said. "It was quite concerning, residents were threatened by this fire."

He said strong wind gusts around 70 km/h concerned firefighters, as they fought a blaze which expanded to 67 hectares.

Any benefit from the brief period of rain was negligible, he said.

"It threw down a whole bunch of lightning and we had two brand new lightning fires start."

The red indicates areas experiencing extremely dry conditions and at high risk of fires. (Natural Resources Canada)

Crews quickly extinguished the blazes before they became unmanageable, he said.

Altogether, Simmons said the fire threat remains severe in the area, which is tinder dry and thirsty for rain. Forty firefighters from Ontario are arriving Wednesday night so Manitoba firefighters — some who have worked non-stop for weeks — can finally relax. 

"We're going to be challenged to deal with all these fires, and we've already picked up two new fires" this morning, he said.

The Lac du Bonnet fire is believed to be human-caused, but Simmons said the investigation continues.

Burn bans remain in effect for Lac du Bonnet and much of southern and eastern Manitoba amid one of the driest springs in decades for many areas. Even those with permits are now restricted from burning anything, according to Lac du Bonnet Emergency Management.

Twenty fires still raging

A fire caused a scare on the weekend for cottagers in the Caddy and West Hawk lakes area, about 80 kilometres southeast of Lac du Bonnet. Simmons said the fires are under control.

In central and eastern Manitoba, Simmons said crews are dealing with 20 fires.

Elsewhere, a fire in excess of 200 hectares is causing damage northeast of Eriksdale in the Interlake. Other blazes are burning near Gypsumville and close to Dauphin River, he said.

Several people were forced from their homes Tuesday afternoon as another wildfire rages in parched eastern Manitoba. 1:19

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson

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