A forest fire rages near the edges of Wasagamack First Nation, about 470 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. (Judy Klassen/Facebook)
An estimated 3,700 people were forced to leave three Manitoba First Nations this week due to a forest fire that has since covered a wooded area about half the size of Winnipeg.
People from Wasagamack First Nation, Garden Hill First Nation and St. Theresa Point First Nation fled to southern Manitoba this week as a wildfire encroached on their communities.
People from Wasagamack First Nation were flown to safety Thursday. (Submitted)
The hurried rush to get people to safety began Tuesday afternoon with boat evacuations that saw about 2,000 Wasagamack residents head to St. Theresa Point to catch flights.
The boats shuttled people to the community late into the night.
Residents from Wasagamack First Nation were taken by boat to St. Theresa Point to escape nearby wildfires. Boats continued to take people late into the evening Tuesday. (Facebook) There is no airport in Wasagamack, so evacuees had to take a 20-minute boat ride through the choppy waters of Island Lake to the nearby community of St. Theresa Point to catch a flight out to safety. (Mark Wood Ganabook)
Evacuees stayed in school gyms and at the St. Theresa Point airport, some for more than a day, before making their way south.
Residents wait to be flown to Brandon or Winnipeg from the airport at St. Theresa Point First Nation. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC) Children from Wasagamack First Nation peer at a plane through a chain link fence Wednesday outside the St. Theresa Point First Nation airport. (Trevor Brine/CBC) People in St. Theresa Point First Nation unload emergency supplies from the Canadian Red Cross. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC) People from Wasagamack First Nation were stuck sleeping in airports and school gyms Tuesday and Wednesday night in Garden Hill First Nation and St. Theresa Point First Nation as they waited to be flown south. (Submitted) Evacuees from Wasagamack First Nation line up at an airport in the nearby community of St. Theresa Point in order to catch a plane out to safety. (Mark Wood Ganabook)
The Canadian Forces flew two Hercules airplanes filled with displaced residents to Winnipeg starting Thursday morning and continued throughout the day.
The second of two Hercules aircraft arrives in Garden Hill First Nation Thursday morning to fly forest fire evacuees to southern Manitoba. (Sean Kavanagh/CBC) A girl checks whether it's safe to breathe the air in St. Theresa Point after being evacuated from Wasagamack First Nation. (Trevor Brine/CBC) A Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft arrives in Winnipeg on Thursday. The group of forest fire evacuees will stay at the RBC Convention Centre in downtown Winnipeg. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)
About 2,500 people had been flown to Winnipeg and Brandon by Thursday night.
Kids clamber up a fence as rescue planes from Perimeter Aviation prepare to fly out of Winnipeg back up north. (Bert Savard/CBC) Young girls walk off the tarmac in Winnipeg, where a Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft carried forest fire evacuees from Garden Hill First Nation. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC) Shelley Harper of Wasagamack arrived in Brandon on Wednesday with 10 children. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)
About 1,000 cots were set up on the third floor of downtown Winnipeg's RBC Convention Centre. The space filled up Thursday night.
Volunteers with Winnipeg watchgroup Bear Clan Patrol set up cots in the RBC Convention Centre on Wednesday to prepare for the wave of arrivals. (CBC) Forest fire evacuees line up in halls of the RBC Convention Centre, where they will stay until the fire dies down. (Caroline Barghout/CBC)
The Winnipeg Soccer North indoor complex was set up as a second shelter in Winnipeg.
Evacuees were expected to fill the Winnipeg Soccer North indoor complex Friday morning. (Sabrina Carnevale/CBC)
Weather forecasts project rain could be headed to the fire zone this weekend.
Communities of St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack and Garden Hill are about 470 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. (CBC) 'Friday's rainfall up to early Sat morning. Should help. Hoping lightning doesn't make it worse," tweeted CBC Manitoba meteorologist John Sauder. The Island Lake area comprises Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point and Garden Hill. Sauder says about 11 millimetres of rain is expected in the area. (@johnsauderCBC)
Meanwhile, the firefight continues.
A water bomber flies over Wasagamack First Nation, heading toward a forest fire threatening the community. (CBC)Smoke clouds the skies above Wasagamack First Nation. (Submitted)