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Manitoba Wildfire Service Responds to Multiple Fires Amid Extreme Conditions

The Manitoba Wildfire Service, the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), Manitoba Emergency Management Organization (EMO), and the Manitoba Fire Service are currently responding to a significant number of active fires in the areas around Flin Flon and The Pas. The fires are exhibiting extreme behaviour due to drought conditions and high winds.

As of this afternoon, fire WE010 near Flin Flon has grown to approximately 31,600 hectares and continues to impact the cottage subdivisions of Sourdough Bay, Whitefish Lake, Twin Lakes, Schist Lake North, and Cranberry Portage. The fire is approximately 1.5 kilometres away from Cranberry Portage, and the community has been evacuated to The Pas. Provincial Emergency Social Services is available to residents, with a reception centre located at the Wescana Inn in The Pas to register evacuees and arrange for accommodations.

A second reception centre has been established at the Victoria Inn in Flin Flon to support evacuees and assist with accommodations for residents affected by evacuation orders from the following areas: Sourdough Bay Subdivision, Twin Lakes Cottage Subdivision, Whitefish Lake Cottage Subdivision, Schist Lake North Cottage Subdivision, Bakers Cottage Subdivision, and Bakers Narrows Provincial Park. Approximately 550 residents have been evacuated at this time, but that number may increase as conditions change.

Smoke from the wildfire is impacting communities in the area, including Flin Flon. Residents are advised to take precautions to protect against harmful smoke inhalation, including limiting outdoor activity, staying indoors with windows and doors closed, setting air conditioning units in homes and vehicles to recirculate to avoid drawing smoke indoors, and drinking plenty of water.

Provincial Trunk Highway (PTH) 10, from Bakers Narrows to PTH 39, is open but requires a police escort. Check stops for police escorts are set up between Little Spruce Road and Northstar Road on the north side of PTH 10 and at Athapap Road on the south side of PTH 10. The Sherridon access road at the junction of PTH 10 remains closed.

The fire has crossed a section of railway in the area and is impacting rail travel between Cranberry Portage and Pukatawagan. Power outages have been reported in the impacted area surrounding the fire and continue to affect Cranberry Portage and Sourdough Bay.

Campgrounds in Bakers Narrows and Grass River provincial parks are closed until at least May 27, including Bakers Narrows, Gyles, Iskwasum Landing, and Reed Lake. Manitoba Parks is contacting all affected reservation holders and seasonal campers. Backcountry travel along the Grass River from Cranberry Portage to Reed Lake is prohibited.

Air tankers and helicopters with buckets have been working on the fire. Five additional crews from Ontario were delayed but are expected to arrive today, with another expected to arrive tomorrow.

Fire WE011 near Wanless north of The Pas is approximately 1,550 ha, and crews are working to protect the hydro line between The Pas and Cranberry Portage. There has been no damage at this time. The fire is approximately two km away from PTH 10. Those travelling on PTH 10 may be impacted by poor visibility due to smoke.

There is a communication outage impacting Flin Flon, Sherridon, Paradise Lodge, and Sourdough Bay between Flin Flon and Cranberry Portage. This includes P25, wireless, wireline, data, internet, and internet protocol television (IPTV). Communications remain available in Creighton, Sask. west of Flin Flon. Technicians are in the area and are working to implement a temporary solution to restore communications.

Interac and credit card services may not be in operation in the affected areas due to the communication outage. Though travel in the area is not advised, those travelling should plan accordingly.

Provincial burning permits are required for outdoor fires set within the burn permit area from April 1 to Nov. 15 annually. To check for municipal burning restrictions, visit Burn permit holders are reminded to check weather conditions, have adequate suppression equipment and ensure proper fuel breaks are in place before burning. Never leave an outdoor fire unattended and always extinguish it before leaving and exercise caution when in or near forested areas.

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