Manitoba

Evacuees from Garden Hill First Nation to start returning home Thursday

The first group of wildfire evacuees from a northern Manitoba First Nation are set to go home on Thursday.

Thousands of people displaced from 3 northern Manitoba First Nations by fire in August

Cots are seen inside the Winnipeg Soccer Federation's indoor complex on Leila Avenue, where a temporary shelter for evacuees was been set up. Evacuees from Garden Hill First Nation will start going home Thursday. (Kari-Jane Hamilton/Submitted)

A group of wildfire evacuees from a northern Manitoba First Nation will be the first from their community to go home on Thursday.

The Canadian Red Cross says approximately 40 people from Garden Hill First Nation will return to the Island Lake community, roughly 475 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, before the full return of the evacuees begins Friday.

The Red Cross estimates it will take several days for the more than 2,700 people displaced from the community to get home.

Thousands of people from Garden Hill, St. Theresa Point and Wasagamack First Nations were forced from their homes by an encroaching wildfire starting on Aug. 29.

Most of the evacuees have been staying in hotels and emergency shelters in Winnipeg and Brandon, while many Garden Hill residents stayed in Portage la Prairie, Man.

Evacuees from St Theresa Point returned earlier this week. Wasagamack officials are still deciding when everyone can go back, although 60 members of that community went home earlier this week to prepare the area, said Jason Small, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross.

"We're just working with the First Nations as they determine when it's safe to go home, and we're just working with them to help get their folks home when they've made that decision," Small said.

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