Fire danger in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan is dropping after more cool weather and occasional rain.
In both provinces, fire danger in various classifiers is either “low” or “moderate” after weeks of higher fire risks. While that weather may have caused some reduction in fire growth, blazes already burning are gaining in size near Flin Flon on both sides of the provincial border. Two major blazes are still burning within 30 kilometres of town to the west and north.
The Alir fire has been moved from “protecting values” to “not contained” by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA) as of July 26, with just over 7,300 hectares burned or burning on the western shore of Amisk Lake. The fire, which began near Muskeg Bay and the inlet with the Sturgeon Weir River, has migrated up the west shore of the lake.
The fire was driven away from property near Muskeg Bay, leaving cabins and a long-maintained cemetery nearby unscathed. No injuries or property damage has been reported connected to the fire.
The fire’s most recent hotspots are climbing toward the northern tip of Amisk Lake, near Missi Island. Denare Beach is located on the other side of the lake and island and has not been at a fire risk - that could change if the fire continues to burn around the shoreline of the lake or if it jumps onto Missi.
On the Manitoba side, the WE038 fire north of Flin Flon is still burning, more than two weeks after a lightning strike first set it off. The fire is now nearly 11,000 hectares in size and is less than 30 kilometres away from Flin Flon as of The Reminder’s press time. Several natural features are blocking the fire from the Flin Flon area - most notably, Kisseynew Lake. The fire is approaching the north shore of Kisseynew, but does not appear to be at imminent risk of burning around or jumping past the lake heading south. In the unlikely event that the fire were to pass Kisseynew, several other lakes, including Tartan Lake, Ruby Lake, Trout (Embury) Lake and Cliff Lake stand in the way.
Roads remain open in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan despite the flames, including the roads Flin Flon relies on most. The Hanson Lake Road (Saskatchewan Highway 106) was shut down for a brief time over the weekend after the Harding fire, burning northeast of Smeaton, jumped the road in several places. The road is back and open as of July 26, but visibility may be reduced in some areas due to heavy smoke. The Harding fire is currently at a size of 21,750 hectares and is still considered by SPSA to be “not contained”.
Another large fire is burning between Red Earth and Hudson Bay. That fire, named the Bell fire, is now at over 22,000 hectares in size and has been burning for almost two weeks.
Remote communities in northwest Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba, including Dillon, Grandmothers’ Bay and Southend in Saskatchewan and Little Grand Rapids, Bloodvein, Berens River, Pauingassi and Red Sucker Lake in Manitoba, have been evacuated.
So far this summer, 466 fires have started in Saskatchewan - more than twice the province’s five-year average for wildfires. Throughout the province, 145 fires are still active. A total of 128 fires are burning in Manitoba as of press time, with 351 fires reported this season to date.