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Some Pukatawagan evacuees able to return home: province, MCCN, Hydro

Some people who were evacuated from Pukatawagan/Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) last month are now able to head home.
Pukatawagan restoration 1
Fuel tanks for the temporary generators used to power Pukatawagan being installed. Weeks after the community was evacuated due to a fast-moving nearby fire, some people are now returning home to the community.

Some people who were evacuated from Pukatawagan/Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) last month are now able to head home.

The fire that threatened the community is now considered under control and a pair of temporary generators are providing Pukatawagan with power while Manitoba Hydro crews replace burned transmission lines near the community.

"Favourable weather conditions and progress on firefighting efforts have decreased the risk to the community and critical infrastructure. Some community members are beginning to return home," reads a fire update from the province and Manitoba Wildfire Services released August 18.

The WE026 fire, as it has been called by the Manitoba Wildfire Service, has been considered “under control” since August 11, according to the group’s records. According to the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS), no new hotspots have been reported with the fire in over three weeks.

The fire, which was first reported July 13, has not grown in size since July 20 and was moved from being considered “out of control” to “being held” on August 4. The fire, which started west of the community and grew quickly toward Pukatawagan, has affected about 52,760 hectares of area, but there are no reports of the fire having burned homes or caused injuries.

Workers and volunteers have entered the community to clean up the effects of smoke and other damage as a result of the fire and evacuation. Generators have been brought in by Manitoba Hydro to help power the community until electrical lines are fully repaired and they have been installed while workers fix fire-damaged poles and lines.

"After just over a month of planning, transportation and installation work, Manitoba Hydro energized two large industrial generators to bring power back to the community of Pukatawagan. This will allow residents to return home while the utility works to replace 77 fire-damaged poles on the power line feeding the community," reads a statement from Manitoba Hydro released August 17.

“Being in our Treaty Six territory is the comfort of home...we feel settled,” said MCCN Chief Lorna Bighetty in the Manitoba Hydro statement.

“Installing the generators means that essential services—such as health, water and sewer, service to our homes, access to the outside world through internet services and other media—are available again. We will rest at night and rise in the morning knowing that our families are safe."