Forest fire smoke prompts 285 to leave Poplar River First Nation
People with health issues sent to hotels in Winnipeg
Smoke from wildfires has forced people to evacuate from Poplar River First Nation.
The Canadian Red Cross helped evacuate 285 people with medical issues, as well as escorts, due to smoke from a wildfire near the community of about 1,200 people. Poplar River is around 345 kilometres north of Winnipeg and east of Lake Winnipeg.
Over the last 24 hours, the fire grew from less than 100 hectares to close to 300 hectares, driven by strong winds, a provincial government spokesperson said. The fire is about 11 km away from Poplar River.
Even though the fire has grown, the risk to humans hasn't, the spokesperson said.
The evacuees will stay in hotels in Winnipeg. Red Cross spokesperson Jason Small couldn't say how long they might be there.
"It's really just dependent on the fire and it's up to the community to decide when they feel it is safe to return," he told CBC News.
The evacuations began Thursday and were completed Friday.
Our volunteer team returns home today after supporting the evacuation of 250+ Poplar River First Nation community members. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mbfire?src=hash">#mbfire</a> <a href="https://t.co/JZ0XzyXAVr">pic.twitter.com/JZ0XzyXAVr</a>—@Hodder9489
"It is unfortunate that members of Poplar River have been forced to flee their homes due to a wildfire but our team, working closely with First Nations leadership and the federal government, has been able to quickly begin the effort of supporting them, to help reduce as much stress as possible," Cailin Hodder, senior manager of disaster management with the Canadian Red Cross, said in a statement Friday.
The federal government is supporting the evacuations through an agreement with the Red Cross to provide emergency support to Manitoba First Nations, covering lodging, food and other essential items and supports.
This is the second evacuation the Red Cross has conducted this year due to a wildfire. The first was Red Sucker Lake in May.
Still in Poplar River, Dennis Bittern said at night the smoke is heavy over the community. In a Facebook message to CBC News, Bittern said he's not too worried about the fire but is concerned it could burn the power lines to the community.
"The water bombers [are] keeping a close eye on that," he wrote.