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Fire update, May 17: Evacuees can come home Sunday, fire stays pat, Wanless fire now held

People evacuated from Cranberry Portage and cabin areas due to the WE010 fire will soon be able to return home.
A map of Flin Flon, Cranberry Portage and nearby areas shows hotspots from the past four days of the WE010 fire, dating back to May 14. Few new hotspots have been reported in the past two days, due to firefighting efforts and colder, wetter weather.

People evacuated from Cranberry Portage and cabin areas due to the WE010 fire will be able to return home as soon as Sunday.

According to announcements from Manitoba Municipal and Northern Affairs and from the Rural Municipality of Kelsey, evacuation orders for the communities will be lifted Sunday - as of 10 a.m. at the earliest, residents of Cranberry Portage, Bakers Narrows, Schist Lake North, Sourdough Bay, Twin Lakes and Whitefish Lake will be able to come home.

Orders will still stay in place until then, including for Friday and Saturday - the decision could also be changed if the fire situation changes before Sunday morning.

"The fireline closest to Cranberry Portage is under control. As a result, residents of Cranberry Portage, the cottage subdivisions of Sourdough Bay, Whitefish Lake, Twin Lakes and Schist Lake North have now been cleared to return to their homes as of 10 a.m. Sunday. Barricades will remain in place until that time," reads an announcement from the Manitoba government issued at 2:20 p.m. Friday. The Reminder since confirmed that Bakers Narrows area residents, who were not named in the initial public announcement, would also be able to come home Sunday.

Each community has been evacuated due to the encroaching WE010 fire, which started after lightning strikes in the area last week. The fire has burned areas as close as 1.5 kilometres north of Cranberry Portage and has burned through several cabin areas, but a combination of constant, diligent work by provincial and local firefighters, firebreaks and good weather and wind conditions have kept the blaze from doing more damage.

The RM of Kelsey, Manitoba Wildfire Service, Northern Affairs and cabin owner associations will have re-entry checklists and guides ready at local control centres for anyone seeking to come home.

Manitoba Highway 10 is still partially open, with traffic being let through in convoys from 8 a.m.-midnight led by RCMP officers. While traffic has been a minimal concern for the road during the partial closure, the coming of May long weekend may lead to longer lines.

The fire itself has burned about 37,000 hectares of forest and has destroyed homes and cabins - exact numbers and any estimated damage are not yet available - but it hasn't grown in two days. According to Natural Resources Canada and NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) maps for the area, no new hotspots have been reported for the fire in the past 24 hours.

More good news on the fire front has come in from Wanless, where the WE011 fire has burned about 7,500 hectares of land. Manitoba Wildfire Services changed the designation for the fire from "out of control" to "being held", meaning the blaze is at least partially controlled. No new hotspots have been reported for the fire in the past 24 hours according to Natural Resources Canada and FIRMS maps.

Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach are still not in any imminent danger from the fire, though smoke from the blaze may come through the area intermittently later this week. Local leadership have told people to prepare emergency kits just in case the fire surges again and an evacuation order is issued, but the blaze is still between 12 and 13 kilometres from Flin Flon, where it has stayed for the past two days.

The area around Flin Flon, Cranberry Portage, Snow Lake, The Pas and most of northwest Manitoba is considered to have a "low" fire danger according to Natural Resources Canada as of 1:30 p.m. Friday - the area covering Denare Beach is considered to have a "moderate" fire danger.

About 250 firefighters are currently battling the WE010 blaze, along with six waterbombers and seven helicopters. More firefighters arrived from New Brunswick Friday and another 21 firefighters from Quebec will arrive in the area this weekend.

Sherridon and Pukatawagan remain cut off from land transport, but that will change for both communities early next week. The Sherridon road is expected to reopen when the evacuation order is lifted Sunday, according to Northern Affairs, while the Keewatin Railway Company, which operates the train line to Pukatawagan, said it will start regular train service again starting May 20.

Forecasts for the Flin Flon and Cranberry Portage areas call for rain straight through the long weekend and into early Tuesday morning, when clouds but no rain are expected. Daily highs are expected to hover around the high-single-digits or low-double-digits, with overnight lows near zero.

The Canada Post delivery alert for Flin Flon has been lifted, meaning delivery of mail is expected to continue as normal. Cranberry Portage is still under a "red" delivery alert, meaning letters and packages will not be delivered in the community, while Sherridon is under a "yellow" alert, which shows delivery may be delayed.

Anyone affected by the fires who needs help can call 211 or toll-free at 1-855-274-1187 or use chat-based options at

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