Canada — As cooler weather, rain and successful fire fighting ease the forest fire danger in northern Manitoba, the province’s conservation department is now keeping a close watch on the eastern and central parts of Manitoba.
Fires burning in the far north forced the partial evacuation of four communities in northern Manitoba last week, as hot temperatures and lightning strikes combined to light up the dry forest.
All the residents have now been allowed to return home, with the last group of evacuees landing in Tadoule Lake about 2 p.m. today.
Tom Mirus, of Manitoba Conservation’s fire program, said the situation up north has now calmed down and efforts are shifting to the central region around The Pas and Grand Rapids, as well as eastern Manitoba.
The most threatening fire is burning near Baril Lake, on the southern edge of a large wood supply area located about 80 km north of Grand Rapids. More than 200 firefighters are successfully holding that fire at bay, while trying to preserve valuable lumber for the Tolko mill in The Pas.
No communities are currently threatened by fire.
Mirus is also concerned about eastern Manitoba, where weather and forest conditions are similar to what the north experienced last week.
A few new fires sparked there yesterday, including a two-hecatre one between Falcon and West Hawk Lakes in Whiteshell Provincial Park.
“When it popped up it was burning with thick black smoke and it was burning intensely,” said Mirus, who noted fire crews from Manitoba and Ontario, as well as cottagers, spotted it quickly enough that it was rapidly contained. Other fires in eastern Manitoba sparked up near Lac du Bonnet and Berens River.
Mirus said the province is “crossing its fingers” hoping today’s high winds don’t stir up smouldering bits ignited by recent lightning strikes in the east.