Air quality warnings issued for western, central Manitoba due to wildfires

The province’s wildfire service has issued air quality warnings for parts of western and central Manitoba and several highways have been shut down due to smoke.

The Manitoba Wildfire Service, the part of the conservation and climate department in charge of wildfires, that smoke caused by a number of ongoing fires have deteriorated the air quality in western and central parts of the province, a fire bulletin says.

Three highways, meanwhile, have been shut down due to smoke and to make room for firefighters trying to extinguish infernos nearby.

Provincial highway 6, from the Gypsumville area to the Devil’s Lake area in the Interlake region, has been closed due to a wildfire spanning more than 80 kilometres long and about 16 kilometres wide at its widest point.

The fire has burned an area of 144,000 hectares — or over 355,830 acres. Two of Manitoba Hydro’s Bipole lines, which carry electricity hundreds of kilometres across the province, are in the area and efforts are being made to preserve them, the bulletin says.

Smoke in the area could also affect nearby communities such as Grand Rapids, Misapawistik Cree Nation, Skownan First Nation and Gypsumville, among others, it adds.

A fire about five hectares — or just over 12 acres — in area has been contained near Misapawistik Cree Nation. Two structures were burned down in the area and the community is making evacuation arrangements.

Provincial highway 20,  between Cowan and Camperville, Man., has also closed because of a fire near Cowan that measures about 1,700 hectares — or about 4,200 acres.

Firefighters are also currently working to protect about a half dozen properties from a fire in nearby Pulp River, which spans 7,000 hectares — or nearly 17,300 acres.

Meanwhile, fire crews and waterbombers are trying to put out a blaze north of Whitemouth, Man., nearly 85 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, that measures about 3,800 hectares — or nearly 9,390 acres.

One employee from the nearby Tim Horton’s camp has been evacuated as a precaution. Communities such as Seven Sisters Falls and Pinawa, which are north of the fire, will experience smoky conditions, the bulletin says.

Provincial road 307 between Seven Sisters Falls and Otter Falls, just south of Pinawa, has been closed due to the fire. 

The wildfire near Cowan measures about 1,700 hectares — or about 4,200 acres — and is creating smoky conditions in the area. (Submitted by Debbie Laychuk)

Manitobans are asked to avoid these areas. If people are driving near them, they are advised to watch for road closure or detour signs, the bulletin says.

Province updates on other fires

The Manitoba government updated the public on nine other fires that are currently burning in the province.

The rural municipality of North Cypress and the Town of Carberry, in western Manitoba, are still under a local state of emergency and have started precautionary evacuations due to a nearby fire at the Canadian Forces Base Shilo.

The fire is being held within the base’s property and has burned about 5,600 hectares — or nearly 13,840 acres. Rain is helping with firefighting efforts, but smoke may affect the area around Spruce Woods Provincial Park and Swan Lake First Nation, the bulletin says.

A fire burning near Caddy Lake, Man., which is just north of Falcon Beach and near the Manitoba-Ontario border, also measures about 3,800 hectares, but there are no “significant suppression concerns,” the bulletin says.

Firefighters working on the wildfire in nearby Toniata and Whiteshell Provincial Park, which has been burning for a week, “continue to make good progress” and no new issues have been reported, it adds.

That fire now spans about 50 hectares but is labelled on the provincial wildfire map as being held.

Manitoba fire crews and a team from Quebec are making “good progress” on a wildfire in the rural municipality of Piney. The fire has now been burning for 11 days and burned about 2,000 hectares — or just over 4,940 acres.

A fire in the rural municipality of Grahamdale, nearly 195 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, is about 1,100 hectares — or just nearly 2,720 acres. It is burning near Lake St. Martin First Nation and Dauphin River First Nation, the bulletin says.

Firefighters near Sapatoweyak Cree Nation, also known as Pelican Rapids, are working to protect the community about 410 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg from a fire measuring 250 hectares — or just over 615 acres.

The fire department near Libau, Man., a community just over 50 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, and the Manitoba Wildfire Service is monitoring the fire in that area, but no new issues are reported, the bulletin says.

The provincial wildfire map shows that burned about 1,300 hectares — or just over 3,210 acres.