Wildfires continue to burn across the Prairies, forcing evacuations

More than 350 active fires burning across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta

Out of control wildfires continue to sweep across the Prairies forcing people to evacuate their homes and communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

First Nations communities are being evacuated due to the fires and the smoke in both provinces as well.

The four communities in eastern Manitoba being evacuated include more than 1,000 people from Pauingassi, Berens River, Bloodvein and Little Grand Rapids First Nations, who are being evacuated to Winnipeg and Brandon.

Most of the evacuations are happening through smaller groups of 10 to 20 people by plane. Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations have been fully evacuated by plane as they are fly-in communities.

Bloodvein First Nation community members have been driving to Brandon as their community is not a remote fly-in community.

The Canadian Red Cross is working with the federal government to provide the resources needed for the communities.

“We provide lodging, provide food, hygiene equipment, or hygiene kits they might need. Other personal supplies,” said Jason Small, spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross.

“We’re working very closely with the tribal council SERDC (Southeast Regional Development Corporation) and they’re providing other support that’s needed. We also have our safety and well being team that helps with any mental health issues.”

According to the Manitoba government, there are currently 130 fires burning in the province – 12 of them being out of control.

A special air quality statement has been issued for much of the province due to the smoke.

To date Manitoba has seen 300 fires and that number is sure to rise.

“We know disasters can happen anytime of the year, we had a massive storm at thanksgiving, we’ve had floods in March, we know they can happen anytime of the year and our team is always ready, we know that yes this is fire season and we’re prepared for it,” said Small.

Meanwhile, the situation in Saskatchewan is very similar to that of Manitoba.

There are currently 171 active fires in Saskatchewan — 23 are not contained.

Due to the fires and smoke, six communities in the north and north-central part of the province have been evacuated. They are Buffalo River Dene Nation, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, Grandmother’s Bay, Red Earth, Shoal Lake and Pakwaw.

Evacuees are currently being accommodated in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina.

In the previous days there was a bit of rain in the north which helped and cooler weather is in the forecast.

The fires have affected air quality in the south causing smoke to blanket much of three provinces and an air quality alert has been issued for the north and east parts of the province for the next few days.

In Alberta there are 62 active wildfires with one of them out of control.

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