Manitoba

Forest fire prompts evacuation of Marcel Colomb First Nation, Man.

A fire burning east of Lynn Lake, Man., has prompted the evacuation of a northern Manitoba First Nation.

Community emptied as a precaution as lighting-caused fire rages out of control

The Lynn Lake fire is seen from an airplane on Sunday. (Province of Manitoba)

A fire burning near Lynn Lake, Man., has prompted the evacuation of a northern Manitoba First Nation.

The leadership of Marcel Colomb First Nation decided to evacuate the community Sunday evening to nearby Lynn Lake as a fire began to grow nearby, said Jason Small of the Red Cross.

Ninety-eight residents are staying with friends and family or in local hotels, said Small, and the Red Cross is providing support and supplies as needed.

The fire was started by lightning, said James Fielder, chief administrative officer of Lynn Lake.

It started as a small fire of about five acres that has since grown to 2,200 hectares at the last report he received.

"Currently the town of Lynn Lake isn't in any danger, although we are getting a lot of smoke from the fire, starting yesterday with the change of winds," Fielder said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the province issued a bulletin saying the fire had pushed to within 15 km of Lynn Lake. It said the town has called for the voluntary evacuation of people with chronic health concerns or breathing problems, as well as pregnant women and infants.

Crews are on site battling the blaze, and water bombers from Thompson have been brought in to help, said Fielder. Conditions have been dry with little precipitation.

The smoke from the fire prompted the evacuation of Marcel Colomb First Nation, with residents finding shelter in Lynn Lake. (Province of Manitoba)

While the fire is a concern, Marcel Colomb was evacuated due to health risks because of the smoke, Fielder said.

"Marcel Colomb is in an area that is a little bit in like a valley, and what was happening was that the smoke from the fire was settling in the valley … a thermal inversion, which means the smoke doesn't dissipate very well, but is held very close to the ground.

"Just from a health risk aspect, there was a voluntary evacuation."

The provincial fire map shows the fire about 15 kilometres southwest of the evacuated community.

Marcel Colomb First Nation is about 30 km southeast of Lynn Lake. The town of Lynn Lake is about 815 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

There have been no reported injuries and residents drove out of the First Nation, said Small.

The province reported 19 new fires started on Monday, bringing the total number of blazes in the province so far this year to 270. The 20-year average for this date is 197. 

With files from Meghan Ketcheson

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