Fires in Manitoba force 2,000 from northern communities

Fire crews, including two water bombers, are working on three fires 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg

THE PAS, Man. — More than 2,000 people have been ordered to evacuate two northern Manitoba communities due to approaching wildfires.

The Manitoba government said Friday that residents must leave Easterville and Chemawawin First Nation because of smoke and the threat from a fire that has moved to within half-a-kilometre of the community.

Fire crews, including two water bombers, are working on three fires in the area.

Approximately 70 people from the community of Easterville will be heading to The Pas while up to 2,000 people from the neighbouring Chemawawin First Nation will be going to Winnipeg.

A graduation ceremony on the Chemawawin reserve was cut short before the grads even got their diplomas because of the evacuation order.

Melissa Houle of Easterville was attending the ceremony. She said it started at 3 p.m. Thursday but half an hour later they got word from the Red Cross to get out.

“They are busing everybody out,” said Houle, adding people were told they were only allowed to take one bag.

The communities are 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

The government says support and co-ordination of the Chemawawin First Nation evacuation will be handled by the Canadian Red Cross.

The province says there have been 100 wildfires recorded in the province so far this year. The average for this date is 233.

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