‘Never seen a fire move like this’: Dry conditions cause significant spread of Manitoba wildfire

Fire crews are continuing to battle a significant blaze in Manitoba’s north that has prompted evacuations.

Earl Simmons, director of Manitoba Wildfire Service, said the fire located near Flin Flon, which they have been fighting since Thursday, grew to 31,500 hectares on Saturday, where it has remained. The fire has prompted the nearby community of Cranberry Portage to evacuate all 550 residents.

“I’ve been working in wildfires for 40 years, I’ve never seen a fire move like this fire moved,” he said Monday afternoon.

The fire was caused by dry lightning, and Simmons said the dry conditions in the area, along with the wind, helped the flames spread quickly. Smoke from the fire was observed in Winnipeg on Sunday.

“Usually this time of year, the soil is pretty moist, and a fire will whip over the surface,” he said. “Unfortunately, because we’re in a drought situation, fires burn down deep, and this fire will burn down deep.”

Simmons said firefighters on scene had told him trees were toppling over as the fire burned to the roots.

Simmons said firefighters from Ontario have arrived in Manitoba to help, joining firefighters from Saskatchewan. There are currently 50 firefighters battling the blaze.

Water bombers have also been working in the area, Simmons said.

While the fire near Flin Flon remains at the same size, Simmons said the hard work will continue.

“We could be fighting that fire a month from now,” he said.

A second fire burning near The Pas is currently at 1,550 hectares, the province said.

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