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Sourdough Bay blaze grows near 3,000 hectares, more resources, out-of-province crews called in

The forest fire near Sourdough Bay has grown overnight - but so have efforts to keep it at bay.

The forest fire near Sourdough Bay has grown overnight - but so have efforts to keep it at bay.

The blaze, officially known as the "WE010" fire in official Manitoba Natural Resources and Northern Development records, has expanded to about 3,000 hectares as of Saturday afternoon, just two days after it was first spotted. According to Natural Resources Canada mapping and NASA's Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS), new hotspots for the fire have been reported for the north and east in the last 24 hours. The fire has reached as far north as Flux Lake and as far east as Alberts Lake. No property loss or injuries have been reported in relation with the fire.

The WE010 fire is still considered "out of control" as of Saturday afternoon according to the Manitoba Wildfire Service.

"The Manitoba Wildfire Service, the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Emergency Management Organization and the Manitoba Fire Service are currently responding to a fire in the area north of Flin Flon which has grown significantly overnight. With strong winds in the forecast, an evacuation order has been issued for a number of homes and cottages in the area and people in the surrounding area are being asked to be prepared to leave if the situation worsens," reads a provincial fire update issued Saturday afternoon.

Some hotspots are within a kilometre of cabin areas on the far northern edge of Sourdough Bay, on the north arm of Lake Athapapuskow, where several cabins and homes are located. People were evacuated from the area Friday evening and fire crews have set up fire mitigation measures, including sprinklers, to help keep flames at bay.

"There is extreme fire behaviour in the area due to drought conditions and high winds. RCMP and the Conservation Officer Service have closed Sourdough Bay Road and evacuated the area around Sourdough Bay," reads the provincial update. Aside from Sourdough Bay, the nearest cabin areas to the fire are located at Thompson Lake and Whitefish Lake - fire crews are keeping an eye on Whitefish Lake, closer to where the fire is expected to head next if wind forecasts for the rest of the weekend hold up. 

"Provincial crews, with help from Cranberry Portage and Flin Flon fire departments, are setting up value protection for cottages in the area and will also address structures in the Whitefish Lake area."

As of Saturday afternoon, the Manitoba Wildfire Service has two helicopter crews, two waterbombers and two other aircraft working in the western region of Manitoba, covering the WE010 fire.

Both Manitoba Wildfire Service crews and firefighters from Flin Flon and Cranberry Portage have deployed to fight the fire and keep it away from homes and cabins. Help in fighting the fire has been called in from Saskatchewan and Ontario - equipment from the nearby fire base in Denare Beach has been deployed to fight the fire when available and fire crews from Ontario are expected to come early next week.

"Work is underway with support from the Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Manitoba Fire Service to set up value protection (sprinklers) around structures in the area. The province has also reached out for interprovincial support and appreciates the arrival of 10 crews from Ontario first thing next week. Air tankers from Saskatchewan are also assisting with suppression efforts," reads the Saturday provincial update.

Fire danger in the area, as of Saturday, is listed as "high" to "extreme" according to Natural Resources Canada. Fire bans are in effect in Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach as of Friday afternoon.

"As warm conditions continue in the long-range forecast across the province, the Manitoba government advises all Manitobans, particularly those in The Pas and Flin Flon areas, to remain diligent and use extreme caution while in forested areas due to drought conditions," reads a Manitoba fire update issued Friday.

Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach are currently in no danger of being evacuated - neither do communities like Snow Lake or Cranberry Portage. The fire is still at least 15 kilometres away from Flin Flon and even further away from the other communities. Other cabin areas on Lake Athapapuskow, including Blondie's Beach, Yoho Bay and others, are not under any evacuation orders or watches.

Winds have carried the smoke from the fire away to the north and the east - according to forecasting from, wind is anticipated to change later Saturday and into Sunday, blowing the smoke toward Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach. Fire smoke is blowing into the Flin Flon area Saturday afternoon, but it isn't from the WE010 fire - that smoke is instead coming from a pair of fires in northern Saskatchewan.

Meanwhile, a second large fire, named the WE011 fire, has been reported southeast of Wanless. The fire has reached 100 hectares in size and is, at its closest point, less than four kilometres away from the community, but wind has been pushing the fire to the east and southeast, away from Wanless. No evacuation orders have been made for Wanless as of 3:30 p.m. Saturday, but a fire break will be set up near the community. Drivers going through the nearby Manitoba Highway 10 may have visibility reduced due to the fire and smoke.

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