Fire Situation in Western Provinces Improves, With 600 Manitoba Evacuees Getting Green Light to Go Home

1 month ago 28

The Manitoba Wildfire Service says over 600 people in northwest Manitoba who evacuated approaching fire last week can return home starting Sunday morning thanks to firefighters’ efforts along with cooler weather and some rain.

Residents of Cranberry Portage and other communities had to flee their homes on May 11 because of a rapidly advancing fire that came less than two kilometres from the community.

“Fire WE010 near Flin Flon remains approximately 37,000 hectares,” said a May 17 news release from the Manitoba Wildfire Service. “The fire line closest to Cranberry Portage is under control. As a result, residents of Cranberry Portage, the cottage subdivisions of Sourdough Bay, Whitefish Lake, Twin Lakes and Schist Lake North have now been cleared to return to their homes as of 10 a.m., Sunday, May 19. Barricades will remain in place until that time.”

In a Facebook post, the Regional Municipality of Kelsey, which includes Cranberry Portage, cautioned people to be prepared when they head home from The Pas, Manitoba, where many had fled.

“You should have enough fuel before you leave The Pas to wait on the highway,” the municipality said in the post. “We expect delays due to the large number of people returning home and working in the area.”

The news is also better regarding a large out-of-control fire near Fort McMurray in northern Alberta.

Related Stories

Growing Wildfires Across Western Canada Forcing Thousands From Their Homes
Canada Wildfires Cause Air Quality Alerts in US Midwest

“There was minimal growth on the fire yesterday and fire activity was low,” said a May 17 news release from Wildfire Alberta, adding about 10 mm of rain fell on the fire overnight and more rain is in the forecast for the next few days.

Around 6,000 Albertans had to flee their homes on May 14 after an evacuation order was issued. An evacuation alert remains for much of Fort McMurray, which means people could still be asked to leave on short notice.

Fire MWF017 has consumed almost 20,000 hectares and is still classed as out of control. Alberta Wildfire said it remains just over five kilometres from Fort McMurray’s landfill.

“There’s only four areas that have actually been evacuated,“ said Mr. Jean. ”The rest of Fort McMurray, it’s business as usual … most of the population was not evacuated.”

So far there’s no indication of when evacuees can return. The cause remains under investigation, although officials have said many of Alberta’s fires this year have been human caused.

The news is also a little better for some 4,700 people evacuated from the Fort Nelson region in northeast B.C., although Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma cautioned, “We’re not out of the woods.”

“The area has seen some rain in the last 24 to 48 hours, and temperatures have remained low overnight, lowering the risk of spread,” she told a May 17 news conference. “But I want to be extremely clear. We are not out of the woods. There is not enough rain forecast to offset the prolonged drought conditions or extinguish the fires naturally.”

She said the Parker Lake wildfire is within a kilometre of Fort Nelson and has consumed about 12,300 hectares.

Because of that, she said, it’s too early to give any indication of when evacuees can return home.

She also confirmed that some structures were lost in the first two days of the fire, which started on May 10, but none since.

BC Wildfire Service director of operations Cliff Chapman said drought conditions in northeastern B.C. remain significant.

“They are extremely dry. We are experiencing fuel drought that we haven’t seen in a long time, if ever, in British Columbia,” he said. “And because of that we’re seeing extreme fire behaviour in and around some of the fires.”

Mr. Chapman said the Prince George region in northern B.C., including Fort Nelson, has been particularly dry, noting the 2023 record fire season.

“Most of the hectares that we lost last year because of wildfires were in Prince George (region),” he said, estimating over 2 million of the 2.8 million hectares lost to fire in 2023 were in the region.

Ms. Ma said some fires in the region smouldered over the winter and flared up, such as the Patry Creek wildfire, about 20 kilometres north of Fort Nelson.

Resident Ian Langstaff told The Epoch Times on May 13 that he could smell smoke much of the winter from his home just outside Fort Nelson.

“The fires never got put out,” he said. “They burned all winter long, we smelled smoke all winter long. And we had little snowpack … all the locals knew … we were in for a big problem.”

With the May long weekend approaching, Ms. Ma made a point of saying that most of B.C. remains unaffected by fires.

“Now is not the time to visit the area around Fort Nelson,” she said. “But like I said, our province is large and there are plenty of other areas to explore.”

Read Entire Article