By The Canadian Press
Some residents of a First Nation in northern Manitoba are expected to return home after a nearby wildfire forced an evacuation.
Thousands from Pimicikamak Cree Nation left the community for lodgings in Thompson, Winnipeg, Brandon and The Pas late Wednesday evening.
Leadership decided to evacuate the community after the encroaching fire started spewing embers and ash on homes in Pimicikamak.
“We got scared about that starting a fire,” Chief David Monias said in a phone interview Thursday.
The Manitoba government said in its latest fire bulletin that unfavourable wind conditions increased the size of the fire to almost 19 square kilometres.
More favourable conditions, including rain and a shift in wind direction, are expected over the next two days.
The Canadian Red Cross is assisting, but Monias said there weren’t enough hotel rooms available for all the residents who left.
Jason Small, spokesperson for the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Red Cross, said the organization has been able to secure enough hotel rooms as of Thursday.
Conservation officers told Monias residents without any respiratory issues are safe to return home. Monias could not say how many would come back.
Monias said rain on Thursday helped temper the fire, but conditions are still not ideal.
“You can still taste the smoke and see the smoke. It kind of burns your eyes a little bit.”
The fire started about two weeks ago. The community has been working with local firefighters as well crews from neighbouring communities and the United States to suppress the fire, Monias said.
Crews on the groundcrews and in aircraft are working to extinguish the fire.
The Manitoba Wildfire service says the danger in central and eastern parts of the province is high to extreme, but low to moderate across most of the north.
There are nine active wildfires currently burning in Manitoba.