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Manitoba Premier Tours Fire Zone as Evacuees Await Word on Their Future

May 15, 2024 6:01 AM | The Canadian Press

By The Canadian Press

Manitoba Wildfires

Manitoba Wildfire Service Area Fire Manager Sam Done surveys wildfires burning in northern Manitoba from a helicopter on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski)

WINNIPEG — Hundreds of people in northwest Manitoba remained out of their homes Tuesday as crews continued to battle an out-of-control wildfire that measured 316 square kilometres.

The fire had not grown in two days, but there was no end in sight to the battle against the blaze and no word on when residents might be able to return home.

“Even during the time that we were in the air, you saw it get that much more serious,” Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew said after getting an aerial tour of the area and meeting with people on the ground.

More than 500 people were told to leave Cranberry Portage and the surrounding area on the weekend as winds drove the fire close to the community. Many went to south to The Pas. Others went north to Flin Flon.

Provincial officials said one end of the fire remained within 1,500 metres of Cranberry Portage on Tuesday.

A section of the main highway in the region, Highway 10, was reopened but motorists had to go to checkstops and get a police escort to travel through.

The fire crossed a section of railway in the area and shut down rail travel between Cranberry Portage and Pukatawagan to the north.

Air tankers and helicopters have been working on the fire, and additional crews from Ontario had joined the effort.

The fight to extinguish the blaze could take a month, Manitoba’s wildfire director said earlier in the week.

Kinew promised financial support for housing, food and other necessities. Many of the affected people visited reception centres and were put up in hotels or found room with relatives.

“Some folks may be asked to move to Dauphin further south, Brandon, Winnipeg, other locations,” Kinew said.

“Folks are stressed out. It’s been a very trying, difficult experience. We’re going to just try to make it that much easier for folks who’ve been through so much already.”

CP - The Canadian Press