Winnipeg getting ready for hundreds of people fleeing northern wildfires

A sporting complex in Winnipeg is getting ready to take in hundreds of evacuees from First Nations from northern Manitoba if forest fires continue to burn.

The Canadian Red Cross, with money from Indigenous Services Canada, has set up hundreds of cots at the University of Winnipeg complex in preparation.

The Red Cross says right now there are still rooms in hotels, but things can change quickly says spokesperson Jason Small.

“In the event that extra space is needed, we are ready,” said Small.

Evacuees continue to flee their communities as fires burn across Northern Manitoba, and residents are staying at hotels in Thompson, Brandon, and Winnipeg.

According to Small, COVID-19 protocols will be in place like grouping families together with two metres between clusters.

The sporting complex holds roughly 600 people and has kitchens and showers.

While Red Cross employees prepare for an event where the complex is used, they say it’s a last resort.

“Shelters are never ideal. Our hope is that this is the last option,” said Small.

More than 3,000 people from five First Nation communities have been evacuated including Tataskweyak, Pauingassi, Berens River, Bloodvein, and Little Grand Rapids.

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