Wildfires claim 2 homes in Cree community in northern Manitoba

Eighty homes were evacuated as a precaution as the fires approached.

Two homes in Misipawistik Cree Nation in northern Manitoba were lost due to a wildfire that reached the community located about 400 km north of Winnipeg.

The danger of wildfires remains high in Manitoba and about 80 homes had to be evacuated from Misipawistik to nearby Grand Rapids or Thompson Tuesday afternoon.

Travis Pranteau was at the home he shares with his parents when things took a turn.

“I was just looking out my window. I was hearing helicopters going by like crazy and so I just checked it out and seen all that fire raising to the sky. I heard a big explosion too,” Pranteau told APTN News by phone.

A forest fire reached an area in the community called Beardy’s Point.

According to information from the province, the cause was not natural but little else is known at this time.

Pranteau left the community and stayed with relatives for the night.

Before he left, he documented the fire and water bombers in the area.

“It felt really hot. We just thought our whole loop was going to burn…and we were worried that these new houses that were built where we live were going to catch on fire too,” said Pranteau.

The fire has since been contained and residents were able to return home this morning.

A firefighting team from Grand Rapids along with teams from Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Conservation and the RCMP were brought in to help contain the fire.

“They washed the fire all night. They put out 23 hot spots overnight and flare ups. This morning we said that the are is safe for people to come home,” Chief Heidi Cook told APTN.

Cook said most of the residents have returned home except for some with chronic health issues or asthma due to the smoke.

She added a total of eight people lived in the two homes.

The community is working to provide permanent shelter for them.

“I’m just grateful that everyone is okay and grateful that we have such amazing people to do the job that needed to be done,” said Cook.

There are roughly 30 active fires in the province. Nine of them are classified as out of control.

The province has had to close down portions of three different highways and there is no backcountry travel allowed below the 53rd parallel.

No other First Nations have had to evacuate but there are fires near Lake St. Martin and Dauphin River First Nations.

A number of other communities are dealing with high smoke levels due to the fires.

Manitoba isn’t alone in dealing with high wildfire levels.

The city of Prince Albert in Saskatchewan declared a state of emergency this week due to a large wildfire nearby, and parts of northwestern Ontario have been battling moderate to high fire levels over the past week.

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