Wildfires forcing people from their homes in northern Manitoba

first_imgA wildfire threatens a condo complex in Kinonjeoshtegon (Jackhead) First Nation, 170 kms north of Winnipeg.Kathleen MartensAPTN NewsNearly 2,200 people could be out of their Manitoba First Nations because of wildfires.The Red Cross says it is working with communities at risk to get people to safety.“It’s a tough situation but we’re doing our best,” said Jason Small, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Manitoba.Evacuations began on the weekend and were underway from Pauingassi, Little Grand Rapids, Sapotaweyak and Kinonjeoshtegon (Jackhead) for elderly and youth with medical and other emergency issues, Small added.Residents were staying in hotels in the Interlake area, western Manitoba and Winnipeg.Kinonjeoshtegon Chief Dave Traverse says a water bomber doused a fire “in the nick of time” that threatened a condominium complex in the community.He suspects the fire was set by someone in the community and police have been notified.Smoke from the fire forced 76 people from their homes so far, he added in a telephone interview.“It is so dry here,” he said. “We haven’t seen fire like this since 1989.”Manitoba has received very little rain over the past few months and hot, dry temperatures are creating ideal fire conditions.Traverse said Wednesday morning no one had been hurt or any property lost.Meanwhile, 1,100 people in the remote community of Little Grand Rapids had a scary experience Tuesday.Small says only 60 people got out via plane before smoke and darkness grounded any further evacuation attempts. Residents had hiked through smoke to the airstrip only to be turned back and spend the night in the community hall that volunteers took turns dousing outside with water hoses.“We were there for a couple of hours when we saw the fire getting closer to us we went back across the lake by boats to reserve land,” said Theresa Eischen in a Facebook post.“We don’t want to perish out here.”Small said evacuation flights resumed from the fly-in community Wednesday.He says getting people out of Paungassi was also a challenge because the community lacked an airstrip.He said the Red Cross was chartering helicopters and float planes to get about 300 people out.So far, he said 76 were removed from Kinonjeoshtegon, 720 from Sapoteweyak and 340 from Little Grand Rapids.A call has gone out to ask for assistance from the Canadian military, added the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, after fears of fire reaching houses in the [email protected]@katmartelast_img