Manitoba

All evacuees from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation now home, says Red Cross

All 900 evacuees from the Manitoba First Nation are now home after fleeing wildfires that threatened their community.

About 900 residents of Manitoba First Nation are home on after being forced to flee due to wildfires

A threatening cloud of smoke hangs over a home at Sapotaweyak Cree Nation in this late-May photo, as a forest fire approached the community. (Submitted by Ephrem Sakayigun)

All 900 evacuees from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation are now home after fleeing wildfires that threatened their community.

The evacuation order was lifted Saturday and people began returning home by personal vehicles to the Manitoba First Nation that day, the Canadian Red Cross said Tuesday.

The remainder were bused back or driven by personal vehicle Monday and Tuesday.

On May 20, wildfires forced roughly 900 people to leave the community, about 400 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. Evacuees have been staying in hotels in The Pas, Swan River and Brandon.

"We are pleased that the evacuees are now back to their homes and resuming their lives," said Cailin Hodder, the Canadian Red Cross's senior manager of disaster management for Manitoba and Nunavut, in a press release.

"The people of Sapotaweyak showed strength and resilience during the time away from their homes."

Residents are now dealing with food spoilage, as the fires knocked out power to the community. Replacement refrigerators have already been shipped to the community and some replacement freezers are on their way, said Hodder.

More than 1,300 evacuees from the Manitoba First Nations of Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi remain out of their homes, staying in hotels in Winnipeg. 

They were forced to leave starting on May 22 as a fire almost half the size of Winnipeg neared the First Nations, two adjacent communities about 20 kilometres apart and about 270 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

It's unknown when those residents will be able to return home.

With files from Bryce Hoye

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