Fire burns close to Manitoba town of Camperville, sheds destroyed

Strong winds are fanning the flames of a fire near a small Manitoba community.

Fire in Bélair Provincial Forest, near Grand Beach, under control but winds still pose threat

Parts of the Bélair Provincial Forest that the fire already passed through were left charred and smoking Wednesday morning. (Pierre-Gabriel Turgeon/CBC)

A fire fanned by strong winds near a small Manitoba community is under control, says the community's mayor.

The fire burned Wednesday in a field just west of Camperville, which is tucked between the Pine River and the shore of Lake Winnipegosis.

"Oh, it was right on the edge. All it would have to do is jump across the Pine River. If it would have jumped the river, the town would have been up in smoke," Mayor Joseph Sonny Klyne said.

Crews spent most of Wednesday fighting the fire — and others ignited by sparks being thrown around by gusting winds.

Klyne said the fire was under control as of Wednesday afternoon, but strong winds still caused concern. 

By the evening, Environment Canada had lifted the wind warning across the province but fires were still blazing, causing concern in some Manitoba communities.

A provincial spokesperson said there were a significant number of fire calls being handled by local fire departments and the province was providing assistance when requested. 

A grass fire near Langruth was putting about six structures at risk, the spokesperson said around 4:30 p.m., and provincial water bombers were helping local fire departments battle the blaze. Officials said Langruth was not going to be evacuated because of the fire, but that could change. More information is available on the municipality's website

Helicopters were also dropping water on a fire near Peguis First Nation.

A wild fire burning in the Big Grass Marsh area around Westlake and Gladstone was under control, officials said around 5:30 p.m. But smoke led to low visibility and Highway 50 was closed from the corner of Provincial Road 265 north for about 10 kilometres. Provincial Road 265 was also closed west of the highway for 20 kilometres. Both reopened after 9 p.m. Wednesday.

RCMP and volunteer firefighters were also monitoring a fire near Lake Manitoba First Nation on Wednesday evening that was being fuelled by the strong winds. 

Firefighters battle blaze in Bélair Provincial Forest

4 years ago
Firefighters are battling a blaze in the Bélair Provincial Forest, northeast of Grand Beach. The fire covers about four hectares of forest and is mostly under control but gusting winds have whipped up the flames every so often. 0:50

In Camperville, sparks from a pit fire were blown into a neighbour's yard and lit a shed on fire around 3 a.m., Klyne said. Those flames quickly spread to several other sheds, destroying them, too, he said.

Matters were made worse when the power went out in the community, leaving the water pumps useless.

Winds gusting at 100 km/h are being blamed for the outage, as well as knocking down trees and tearing at shingles and siding on homes.

Other fire departments in the region were called in to help and the shed fires were extinguished. That's when the field fire flared up and pushed closer to town.

Klyne said he was ready to send evacuation notices to the 700 people who live in the community, about 95 kilometres north of the city of Dauphin, but then the fire shifted direction.​

Bélair fire under control

Provincial crews were also busy with water bombers helping to bring a blaze in the Bélair Provincial Forest, northeast of Grand Beach Provincial Park, under control.

The fire in the Bélair forest, which has charred about four hectares, was also fuelled by Wednesday's gusting winds, said Mark Sinclair, chief of the East Beaches Fire and Rescue.

A passerby noticed the flames on the east side of Highway 59 and called the fire department around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday.

The wind had been pushing the flames towards the community of Traverse Bay, on Lake Winnipeg, Sinclair said.

Its progress hd been slowed but crews were wary about the winds and the threat they continued to pose.

The weather system responsible for the gusting winds is the same one that helped fuel fires in Alberta and Saskatchewan and caused damage in Calgary and Regina.

The forceful winds crossed into western Manitoba late Tuesday and early Wednesday, bringing gusts of 80-100 km/h.

The winds dropped off Wednesday evening, from west to east, as the system exited the province, and the wind warnings were lifted. 

The same system also caused blizzard warnings in Manitoba's far north. The region did get some snow but the warnings were lifted by Wednesday night.