Manitoba

Pauingassi First Nation fire evacuees heading home Monday

All the fire evacuees from Pauingassi First Nation could be back home as early as Monday.

More than 400 community members have been staying in Winnipeg hotels for the past month

A water bomber heads toward a wildfire near Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba in May. (CBC)

All the fire evacuees from Pauingassi First Nation could be back home as early as Monday.

Chief Michael Owens made the announcement Friday at a community gathering at the Canad Inns Polo Park.

More than 400 community members have been staying in Winnipeg hotels for a month, waiting to hear that it is safe for them to return.

Pauingassi, along with the neighbouring community of Little Grand Rapids, evacuated on May 21 as a massive wildfire approached.

The Canadian Red Cross, which has been co-ordinating the evacuation along with the local councils, has been working over the last couple of weeks to restore power and water service to the community, as well as spending close to $1 million to replace fridges in the two communities that were spoiled by rotting food.

Fridges and freezers are being airlifted into Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi to replace appliances destroyed after the sudden evacuation. (Submitted/Eric Cowan)

Shawn Feely, vice-president for Manitoba and Nunavut for the Canadian Red Cross, said they plan to get all Pauingassi residents home on Monday.

"They're anxious to go home. I've talked to a number of evacuees, especially some mothers with some young children. They would love to get home and have them be able to play in the yard and in the community," said Feely.

Residents from Little Grand Rapids were told Thursday night that they will start heading home Saturday, with everyone expected to be back in the community on Monday.

Feely said the Pauingassi residents will all receive $500 Superstore gift cards to replace lost food, as well as more gift cards to buy perishable food once they're back in the community.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron MacLean

Online Reporter

Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.

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