Forest fires in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan are going in different ways as of August 5 - good news in Manitoba, more of the same in Saskatchewan.
Several fires continue to burn in the northern regions of both provinces, including fires burning relatively close to Flin Flon, Creighton, Denare Beach and other nearby communities.
The ALIR fire is now at 16,000 hectares, according to Natural Resources Canada, and is growing to the south and to the west – away from the shore of Amisk Lake and away from Denare Beach, but towards the Hobb fire, a fire about 5,000 hectares in size south of Hanson Lake. The Hobb fire is within five kilometres of the Foran Mining McIlvenna Bay property, one of the area’s most notable mine exploration projects. The Hobb fire has been spreading to the north over the past week, though growth appears to be slowing.
Both fires are considered to be “not contained” by the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency (SPSA).
Other fires in northern Saskatchewan near the Flin Flon area include the Fitz fire, burning on the north shore of Cotteral Lake, which has reached a size of 109 hectares and is being considered as “ongoing assessment” by the SPSA. That fire is less than 20 kilometres from Flin Flon and Creighton. The Forsberg fire, which burned across Saskatchewan Highway 106 (the Hanson Lake Road) last month, is now considered “contained” by the SPSA, having reached a size of 729 hectares at its maximum. Meanwhile, the Harding fire, located north of Smeaton along Highway 106, has hit a size of over 30,000 hectares and is still considered “not contained”.
“Continued work on containing the southern end of the fire with dozer lines, crews, and water tenders, along with bucket support. Crews in the northern section continuing to provide suppression action to prevent further spread into Narrow Hills. Crews continue extinguishing hot spots as well as monitoring the values protection units that are in place,” reads the latest SPSA report on the Harding fire.
There are now 131 active fires burning in Saskatchewan, with 527 total fires being reported so far this summer – well over twice as many as the five-year average for the province as of August 5.
Good news came on the fire front for northern Manitoba August 5, as the WE080 fire – the fire burning south of The Pas that caused a portion of Highway 10 to be closed last weekend – is now being considered “being held” by Manitoba Conservation and Climate. The fire, which has reached a size of around 500 hectares, has not grown in size in the past two days and no recent hotspots have been reported by Conservation. Highway 10 reopened late August 3 and the road remains open, with heavy smoke advisories and a reduced speed limit in effect when passing through the fire zone.
The WE038 fire, burning north of Kisseynew Lake, is now 12,700 hectares in size, with no recently reported hotspots. The fire, located about 30 kilometres due north of Flin Flon, is the closest Manitoba fire to the area.
Not all the news is good on the Manitoba side though – three large fires are continuing to burn near Pukatawagan and Snow Lake – the WE064, WE032 and WE049 fires. Both the WE064 and WE032 fires are listed as “out of control” by Conservation and are under full response, while the WE049 fire is being “monitored”, with a modified response in use.
The WE064 fire is the largest of the three and, according to Natural Resources Canada, has burned across both sides of the railway heading into Pukatawagan in several areas. Recent hotspots have been found on both sides of the line. The fire is now over 50,000 hectares in size and is about 15 kilometres from Pukatawagan at its closest point.
The WE032 fire near Snow Lake is almost 50,000 hectares, burning south of Burntwood Lake. Recent hotspots with the fire have been reported to the western side of the fire toward Guthrie Lake and File River. At its closest point, the WE032 fire is about 20 kilometres from the WE064 fire. Snow Lake is about 20 kilometres south of the fire’s southernmost point.
The third fire, the WE049 fire, has burned over 20,000 hectares and burning to the southwest of Highrock Lake, directly north of the WE032 fire and directly east of both Pukatawagan and the WE064 fire.
In Manitoba, 156 fires are actively burning province-wide and 425 fires have been reported so far this summer. The province is prioritizing three fires in northern Manitoba – the WE080 fire near Highway 10, the NO045 fire north of Split Lake (4,300 hectares, considered “out of control” on Thursday and within 10 kilometres of Split Lake), and the NO128 fire, burning near the community of Bird near Gillam.