Firefighters from South Africa arrive to help with blazes in Manitoba


More than 100 firefighters from South Africa have arrived in Winnipeg to help with wildfires burning in northern Manitoba.

They’re part of an organization from South Africa called Working on Fire.

“They are very revved up right now as you can see they are quite anxious to get going,” said Trevor Abrahams, director of the organization.

The Manitoba Wildfire Service is sending the group to an area east of Lake Winnipeg, northeast of the capital city.

“We’re just happy to have the help here,” said David Schafer, director of the Manitoba Wildfire Service. “It’s going to give a break to our firefighters that they need and the assistance because we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Firefighters from South Africa
Firefighters from South Africa arrived in Winnipeg Wednesday. Photo: Michelle Karlenzig/APTN.

As some fires are near First Nation communities, Abrahams says they are aware of Indigenous history and have a connection to First Nations people.

“We are familiar with some of the history,” he told APTN News. “We’ve worked together with First Nation people in the past. We obviously relate to them very well, so we look forward to engaging with them in Manitoba.”

There are currently 143 active fires across Manitoba. Six First Nations have been evacuated so far this year.

According to the Red Cross, leadership from Berens River First Nation, Bloodvein First Nation, Tataskweyak Cree Nation and Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, “have each determined that their respective communities are now safe for all members.”

The Red Cross said members started heading home on Aug. 9, for Berens River and “Tataskweyak members and by end of day on Tuesday, almost all evacuees from both First Nations were home.”

Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Michelle is a video journalist from rural Manitoba with a Creative Communications Degree from Red River College. Before APTN, Michelle worked as an editor-in-chief for The Projector online publication.