Up to 3,000 N.W.T. wildfire evacuees expected in Manitoba

The Manitoba government is preparing for the arrival of up to 3,000 evacuees from the Northwest Territories, as fires continue to rage across the area.

A wildfire is now within 15 kilometres of the N.W.T.’s capital Yellowknife, territorial officials reported Friday afternoon

The evacuees could start arriving by air charter as early as Saturday, a provincial spokesperson said in an email Friday.

Manitoba is arranging hotel accommodations in Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage la Prairie, the spokesperson said. Transportation, food and essential health supports will be provided as needed.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross said it is working with the province to prepare for the evacuees’ arrival.

Manitoba is also getting ready to send 20 personnel to N.W.T. in the coming days to help attack the fires, the provincial spokesperson said.

Residents in Yellowknife, a city of about 20,000 people, were told they needed to evacuate by noon on Friday. More than 1,500 were evacuated by air Thursday, while 22 flights were planned for Friday, with more going on Saturday.

Help needed

Evacuee and former Winnipegger Laura Stott said she was lucky to get a charter flight from Yellowknife to Edmonton on Thursday.

“There’s been a lot of frustration with, you know, flights being cancelled yesterday and just that sense of not knowing exactly what’s going on,” she told CBC on Friday.

“It’s been a whirlwind” for many people, she said.

Stott and her two-year-old son are on their way to stay at a friend’s place in Calgary. She said her husband was away working in Nunavut this past week and couldn’t go with them.

Stott said she doesn’t know when they can return home, but encourages people to help evacuees in any way they can.

“Anything at this point can help anybody.”