Fast-moving grass fire forces evacuation of 18 homes in southwest Manitoba

A grass fire fuelled by extremely dry conditions and strong winds forced a mass evacuation of 18 homes in southwest Manitoba in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The knocks on the doors came around 2 a.m. as the fire moved within two kilometres of the homes south of Carberry, said Bob Adriaansen, reeve of North Cypress-Langford, a municipality about 170 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

“Last night was the first … [fire] that was just going straight toward them. So we had a small number of people that we wanted to get out,” he said.

Some emergency crews, including provincial water bombers, had been fighting the fire throughout Monday while others helped move livestock out of the perimeter that was set up to try to control the flames.

Water bombers remained in the area overnight “so they could hit it first thing this morning,” Adriaansen said Tuesday.

The air was thick with smoke on Monday night while winds, gusting around 40 kilometres per hour, continually pushed the fire line.

The smoke had lifted somewhat by Tuesday morning but the fire was still going, Adriaansen said as the water bombers passed overhead.

More information about the situation is expected from the province sometime this morning, he said.

It’s the second major fire to burn in the area this spring. One just west of Carberry at the beginning of April led to about 20 homes being evacuated.

People were allowed back home a few hours later, once the flames had been extinguished. No structures were damaged but a large swath of field was left blackened.

 “It’s so dry this year. It’s dangerous,” said Adriaansen.