Manitoba

Another Manitoba First Nation evacuated as dozens of wildfires continue to burn

Hundreds more people are being evacuated from a fifth First Nation in Manitoba  as wildfires continue to threaten multiple communities. 

300 people being flown out of Red Sucker Lake First Nation Thursday

A wildfire tears through trees near Bloodvein First Nation. The community was evacuated earlier this week. (Submitted by Ryan Klassen)

Hundreds more people are being evacuated from a fifth First Nation in Manitoba as wildfires continue to threaten multiple communities. 

Roughly 300 people are expected to be flown out of Red Sucker Lake First Nation on Thursday, according to the Canadian Red Cross, which is co-ordinating flights out of the community. 

They'll be staying in hotels in Winnipeg and Brandon, joining the 2,000 others who have already left their homes in Little Grand Rapids, Bloodvein, Berens River and Pauingassi.

Evacuations are still underway in the Little Grand Rapids, Bloodvein and Berens River First Nations. The evacuation of Pauingassi First Nation wrapped up on Monday. 

There were 131 active wildfires in Manitoba as of Wednesday, with no new fires reported and seven extinguished in the previous 24 hours. 

It's one of the most challenging years firefighters have had in decades, says Dave Schafer, director of the Manitoba Wildfire Service.

It's not so much the number of fires but their intensity, he says. 

"We have to be careful and pick the right fires to attack so we can do it safely and not put our crews in jeopardy," he said. 

With much of Western Canada and northwestern Ontario in a similar situation, getting additional resources has been challenging, as there is only so much equipment and so many firefighters to go around. 

Help on the way 

The arrival of Canadian Armed Forces personnel on Friday should help. 

Schafer says they will be tasked with extinguishing hot spots in fires that are close to being extinguished to free up other firefighters to battle more difficult blazes. 

"It's going to take the pressure off those existing attack crews that we have for the province," he said. 

Canadian Armed Forces members undergo training at the Shilo, Man., base before deployment to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in eastern Manitoba. (Master Cpl. HJL MacRae)

The province is also expecting crews from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, he says. 

Canadian Armed Forces personnel are expected to be in Manitoba until at least Aug. 10, but could be in the province longer depending on the wildfire situation, says a federal spokesperson. 

Forces members will be deployed to four staging areas in Swan River/Cowan, Gypsumville, Sherridon/Cold Lake and Nopiming Provincial Park to help Manitoba Wildfire Service firefighters. 

In addition to suppressing hot spots to ensure fires are fully extinguished, they will also be tasked with holding existing fire lines, the spokesperson said.

With files from Power and Politics

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