Forest fire near Manitoba First Nation quadruples in size
About half of Red Sucker Lake First Nation residents evacuated due to health concerns
An out-of-control forest fire north of Red Sucker Lake First Nation quadrupled in size Friday, the Manitoba government says.
The fire, which on began Wednesday, measured approximately 575 hectares Friday afternoon, an increase from 120 hectares Thursday evening.
The blaze is still about seven kilometres north of Red Sucker Lake First Nation, a fly-in community 535 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.
Approximately half of the 900 residents in the community, 450 people, have been evacuated over health concerns from poor air quality, said the Canadian Red Cross.
The number is larger than the organization previously thought because more people presented with health concerns than initial estimates.
The evacuation includes people with health problems, the elderly and the very young, said Shawn Feely, Red Cross Canada vice-president for Manitoba and Nunavut.
"The community obviously sees this as very serious, as do we," said Feely.
Evacuees are being housed in hotels in Winnipeg. The Canadian Red Cross is contracted by Canada's federal government to co-ordinate evacuations of First Nations.
The charity will provide food, transportation and other necessities to the evacuees in Winnipeg, Feely said.
Manitoba Sustainable Development has deployed 20 firefighters and three helicopters to try and douse the flames north of the community.
Two water bombers are also available if needed, according to the province.
On Friday, rain fell on the area, which a provincial spokesperson said will likely prevent the fire from growing further.
It's not clear when residents will be able to safely return.
with files from Marianne Klowack