A series of forest fires burning in northeast Manitoba have led to the first voluntary evacuation of this summer’s fire season.
Priority one residents from Little Grand Rapids First Nation and Pauingassi First Nation have been evacuated from their region due to lingering smoke from a series of large fires burning nearby. In total, about 200 people were evacuated from the two communities and sent to Winnipeg.
Priority one residents include people who may be especially vulnerable to smoke, including infants, elders and people with chronic respiratory conditions.
Five fires of around 3,000 hectares in combined size are currently burning south of Pauingassi, while a number of larger fires are currently burning to the north, near the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg. A pair of blazes near Gunisao Lake have grown to a combined size of over 41,500 hectares – the size of nearly 25,000 Canadian football fields.
Special air quality statements were in effect for almost all of eastern Manitoba as of July 8, stretching from the U.S. border to Hudson Bay. Following a stretch of wet weather last weekend, fire conditions for most of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are currently considered “low”.