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Military Planes Help Thousands of First Nation Evacuees Flee

August 31, 2017 1:09 PM | News

Canadian Red Cross

Canadian Red Cross logo. FILE PHOTO

Many of the 3,700 people fleeing a large forest near three remote First Nations waited overnight in an airstrip terminal, gymnasiums and other buildings.

Chief Alex McDougall of Wasagamack First Nation says people are tired and frustrated, and anxious to get to somewhere where they can lay their head.

Two Hercules transport planes, each capable of carrying 100 people, have been brought in to help fly evacuees more than 500 kilometres south to Winnipeg.Private charter planes have also been used, although their capacity is limited.

The Canadian Red Cross is setting up thousands of cots, along with eating tables and other amenities, inside a 4,300-square-metre hall at the RBC Convention Centre.

There have been 497 fires in Manitoba this season, according to Manitoba Sustainable Development and the Office of the Fire Commissioner. Both parties advised “hot, dry and windy conditions continue, resulting in elevated wildfire danger levels in many areas of the province,” in a news release Thursday.

Fire crews from the Northwest Territories and Minnesota, along with water bombers from Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador, are pitching in with relief efforts.

A 23,000-hectare wildfire continues to burn about one kilometre from the Wasagamack community.

Large fires are also burning about six kilometres from Fox Lake First Nation and three-and-a-half kilometres from Poplar River.

-The Canadian Press, Staff