An air-attack officer's view of the fire near Grand Rapids, Man., from a 'bird dog' spotter aircraft that accompanies the water bombers. ((Manitoba Conservation) )

Heavy smoke from a fire in northeastern Manitoba has forced 100 more people from their homes in St. Theresa Point.

The community is not in immediate danger from the fire, but the smoke was thick enough Tuesday night to send some elderly people and those vulnerable to respiratory problems out of the community.

Curtis Smith, spokesman for the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters, said community leaders hope the smoke clears enough for some to return later Wednesday.

"What they're saying is, last night the wind conditions were not in their favour. Today, the winds are calm, but the smoke is still lingering," he said.

"They're hoping for probably an east wind, so that it moves the smoke out of the community."

A quarter of St. Theresa Point's 2,200 residents are now staying in Brandon and Winnipeg as they wait for the heavy smoke to disperse, Smith said.

"They're all anxious to get back home," he said, noting some people had been out of their homes for almost a week.

About 2,650 people have had to leave communities affected by smoke and fire in northern Manitoba so far this year, including Norway House, Sherridon and Wasagamack.

Most have since returned home.

Twenty-eight fires are currently burning in Manitoba, almost all of them in tinder-dry northern areas of the province.

Four of the northern fires are considered the most serious, including a massive fire 40 kilometres north of Grand Rapids, on the northwest tip of Lake Winnipeg, last estimated to be 32,000 hectares in size.

That fire is not threatening any communities, but heavy smoke from it has closed Highway 6 on and off over the past few days.

More than 500 Manitobans, 30 helicopters, 10 water bombers and three other planes are fighting fires across the province, backed up by more than 120 firefighters and equipment from Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The battle is costing the provincial government an estimated $1 million per day.

Nearly 180 fires have been reported in Manitoba this year. The 20-year average for this time of year is 163 fires, according to provincial fire officials.

All but 12 of the fires have been blamed on human activity. The dozen others were caused by lightning.