Manitoba and Saskatchewan hit by wildfires

The situation is affecting residents of three First Nations communities in Manitoba and Pelican Narrows in Saskatchewan

Wildfires in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan are forcing the evacuation of some residents.

The number of affected residents is greatest in three northern Manitoba communities, which are threatened by nearby forest fires.

The fire is closest to the Wasagamack First Nation and on Tuesday afternoon the entire community of about 2,000 was ordered out.

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A spokesman for the Red Cross tells CTV Winnipeg there is no air strip in the community so residents are heading by boat to St. Theresa Point and flying out from there.

The Red Cross also says another 800 people from St. Theresa Point First Nation and 800 from Garden Hill First Nation will be relocated over health concerns from smoke.

The evacuees are being taken to Winnipeg and Brandon, Man.

The affected communities are part of the province’s Island Lake region, located about 600 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

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In the community of Pelican Narrows, Sask., more than 1,500 people are being evacuated because of smoke and road closures caused by wildfires.

“There is a threat to their access from wildfire, the highway may be crossed and closed from wildfire and there is also the possibility of having heavy smoke move into the community, which will impact their health-priority patients,” said Deanna Valentine, Emergency Social Services provincial co-ordinator.

Pelican Narrows, which is near the Manitoba boundary, is under a special air quality statement from Environment Canada.

The statement says there are high levels of air pollution due to forest fire smoke from fires in northern Saskatchewan, which will reduce visibility and bring extremely poor air quality.

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The government says evacuees with health concerns will be supported in hotels.

“It would be people with respiratory issues, it would be the young babies, it would be the elderly people, pregnant moms anybody who may be more at risk to respiratory issues,” Valentine said.

Another 12 residents from the community of Birch Portage are staying in a hotel in Prince Albert.

An evacuation centre has also been set up at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Saskatoon.

Emergency Social Services is working with the Red Cross, heath ministry, Salvation Army and other organizations to co-ordinate shelter, food, clothing, hygiene products and other necessities for evacuees.

 

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Transcontinental Media G.P.