More than 100 people forced out of Pine Creek due to high-risk wildfires north of Dauphin, Man.
Manitoba Conservation and Climate suspends burning permits as prevention measure due to multiple fires in area
Multiple high-risk fires burning in south-central Manitoba have prompted the province to immediately suspend burning permits, after at least 120 people living in some communities north of Dauphin, Man., were forced to evacuate their homes to escape wildfires.
High winds had pushed a couple of fires together to create a blaze of approximately 2,500 hectares, according to an emailed statement from a Manitoba government spokesperson late Monday afternoon.
The statement said Manitoba Conservation and Climate will not be granting any new permits and will be suspending existing ones within the burning permit area.
The Province of Manitoba's fire situation report earlier Monday said the wildfires burning near Pine Creek, Camperville and Duck Bay spanned about 11 square kilometres.
Four water bombers that were positioned nearly 80 kilometres west, in Swan River, Man., flew over the area in an attempt to extinguish the blaze.
"Human-caused wildfires have been reported in several other areas of the province as well," reads the government statement.
Canadian Red Cross assisted with the evacuation of about 100 people from Pine Creek First Nation, the province said on Monday.
Residents of the First Nation headed about 100 kilometres south to Dauphin on Sunday and stayed there overnight, according to band chief Karen Batson.
"Fires are still burning in the area, but evacuated area is safe now," Batson wrote in a text on Monday afternoon.
In a text sent Monday evening, Batson said all evacuees who sought refuge in the city had returned to their homes. She said the community is still waiting for fire crews to tell them when the situation is fully under control, which depends on wind and weather as a few small fires were still smouldering in the area.
About 1,200 people live on the reserve, according to the First Nation's website.
"In order to reduce the risk of fire and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for front-line firefighters, the province is asking the public to be particularly cautious when outdoors to prevent human-caused wildfires," reads the Manitoba government's statement.
The province was also reminding the public not to leave fires unattended and fully extinguish fires before leaving. It also encouraged people using off-road vehicles to stay on developed trails, make regular stops to check the engine and exhaust for debris, and carefully dispose of any debris caught up in the equipment.
According to the latest fire situation report, there are currently four active fires in the province.
So far in 2020 there have been a total of 21 wildfires, and all of them were caused by humans.
A "wide swath of dry air" is currently blanketing the central parts of the provinces, according to an online national wildland fire report on Monday afternoon.
"Human activity will be the main factor in starting fires, although human-caused fires may be reduced under current [COVID-19-related] restrictions on open burning and forest activity," the report reads.
A map created Monday on the Natural Resources Canada website shows hotspots, which could represent one or more vegetation fires such as forest, grass or cropland fires, using a satellite image and high infrared technology to indicate heat sources.
An oval-shaped patch of dots marking hotspots peppers the southern portion of Manitoba, south of the province in the U.S. and edges west into Saskatchewan.
With files from Nicholas Frew