forest fire rages

     Forest fire rages

24 May 2008

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Canada — Fire crews raced to battle the province’s largest forest fire so far this year in Sandilands Provincial Forest today.

The fire is estimated to be about 2,800 hectares in size and is believed to have been human-caused. “It’s really unfortunate,” said Tom Mirus, manager of Manitoba Conservation’s fire program.

No immediate evacuations were planned tonight in Sandilands, a community about 120 km southeast of Winnipeg.

However, RCMP had been going door-to-door in the area advising residents to be prepared for the possibility of a future evacuation, said Mirus.

Four water bombers from Manitoba and an additional two from Ontario were fighting the fire today, with helicopters also assisting.

A member of the public reported the fire this afternoon.

Crews were slated to bring out bulldozers to surround the blaze with a fire line to slow its spread tonight.

Smoke hung heavy in the area today but rain forecast for tonight is expected to help.

“We really, really need it,” said Mirus. “There may be some road closures in the area depending on where the smoke goes.”

With dry forest conditions in the area, officials had been cautioning people about how quickly fires can spread.

Given the size of the Sandilands fire, crews are in for a long battle.

“We’re going to be there at least a week just putting this thing out — this is going to be a long, drawn-out affair,” said Mirus.


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