Multiple high-risk fires burning in south-central Manitoba have prompted the province to immediately suspend burning permits, after at least 120 people living in some communities north of Dauphin, Man., were forced to evacuate their homes to escape wildfires.
In a news release issued late on Monday afternoon, Manitoba Conservation and Climate also said no new permits will be granted.
The Province of Manitoba’s fire situation report said the wildfires burning near Pine Creek, Camperville and Duck Bay spanned about 11 square kilometres.
Four water bombers that were positioned nearly 80 kilometres west, in Swan River, Man., flew over the area in an attempt to extinguish the blaze.
Residents of Pine Creek First Nation headed about 100 kilometres south to Dauphin on Sunday and stayed there overnight, according to band chief Karen Batson.
“Fires are still burning in the area, but evacuated area is safe now,” Batson wrote in a text on Monday afternoon.
About 1,200 people live on the reserve, according to the First Nation’s website.
Batson could not be reached by phone on Monday. It remains unclear when the evacuees will be able to return or if more will have to leave, however the province said in its release that most of those who fled are expected to go back home on Monday.
“In order to reduce the risk of fire and the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for front-line firefighters, the province is asking the public to be particularly cautious when outdoors to prevent human-caused wildfires,” reads the release.
The Canadian Red Cross confirmed the evacuation to Dauphin, but could not provide any other details at this time.
According to the latest fire situation report, there are currently four active fires in the province.
So far in 2020 there have been a total of 21 wildfires, and all of them were caused by humans.
A “wide swath of dry air” is currently blanketing the central parts of the provinces, according to an online national wildland fire report on Monday afternoon.
“Human activity will be the main factor in starting fires, although human-caused fires may be reduced under current [COVID-19-related] restrictions on open burning and forest activity,” the report reads.
A map created Monday on the Natural Resources Canada website shows hotspots, which could represent one or more vegetation fires such as forest, grass or cropland fires, using a satellite image and high infrared technology to indicate heat sources.
An oval-shaped patch of dots marking hotspots peppers the southern portion of Manitoba, south of the province in the U.S. and edges west into Saskatchewan.
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