Manitoba wildfire crews back to work a month early

Wildfire crews in Manitoba are being called back to work a month earlier than usual because of tinder-dry conditions in the southwest. A controlled burn raged out of control and burned two farm buildings north of Virden on Sunday.

Dry conditions in southwest mean early start to fire season

Manitoba wildfire crews are being called back to work about a month earlier than usual thanks to drier than normal conditions. 0:54

Manitoba wildfire crews are being called back to work about a month earlier than usual thanks to drier than normal conditions.

Gary Friesen, manager of the Manitoba Conservation wildfire program, said he is calling in firefighters because of the potential for fires in the southwestern part of the province.

Fire destroyed two buildings near Virden after a controlled burn turned into a raging grass fire.

"That's primarily what you'll get at this time of year, those fine fuels, like the dry grasses and the cured grasses and the shrubs where they've died off over the winter," Friesen said. "Because we have no snowfall in those areas left … they dry out [in] the winds and the sunshine, so they're very susceptible to fire."
Fire scorched about 20 acres of land north of Virden, Man., on Sunday afternoon. (Wallace District Fire Department /Facebook)

Most of the forested areas received below average snowfall this year, but Friesen said there was enough moisture last fall to ensure the ground water is high. However, the southwest corner of the province is very dry.

"That would be south of Swan River in that area and then down to the border, so that includes Spruce Woods and things like that," Friesen said.

The province expects an average to above-average fire season this year.

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