‘The smoke just got heavier’: Wildfire in the R.M. of St. Clements held back as flames spread

WINNIPEG — Crews are continuing to battle a wildfire north of Selkirk, Man.

The fire was detected over the weekend near the Red River, west of Libau, Man., in the R.M. of St. Clements.

It’s one of several fires burning across Manitoba. Municipal officials said the fire now appears under control but some tense moments Sunday left people on edge.

“‘The smoke just got heavier and heavier throughout the day,” said Yvonne Poirier, a resident of the R.M. of St. Clements who lives near the fire zone.

Water bombers circled above her place Sunday. They were called in to douse the flames from the fire as they moved closer to people’s homes.

“The house shook so we ran outside to see that the water bombers were circling the area and there was probably a plane every minute,” said Poirier.

The R.M. of St. Clements said the fire is estimated to be 1750 hectares in size but isn’t threatening any homes.

Deepak Joshi, the municipality’s chief administrative officer, said the East Selkirk and Narol fire departments continue to fight and monitor the blaze.

“What it looks like is the fire heading towards water and is somewhat in control,” said Joshi.

He said the water bombers were called in Sunday because the fire spread.

Like many municipalities across Manitoba, the area is tinder dry and fire restrictions have been put in place.

“There’s an assumption that it is human caused,” Joshi said.

With wildfires raging across Manitoba, crews from Ontario and Quebec have joined the firefight.

Forty personnel from Ontario have arrived and Quebec has sent two water bombers and a bird dog aircraft in addition to an air attack officer and a crew of 20 people.

Poirier is glad the help arrived but she said seeing the water bombers hit close to home.

“We weren’t concerned until we saw the bombers overhead, the water bombers,” Poirier said. “We weren’t scared because we figured it’s got to jump two roads before it gets to us.”

Elsewhere, the province said crews from CFB Shilo are dealing with a fire that broke out in the base’s range and training area.

The province said while the area has fireguards in place, the province is responding to one area in the southwest corner of the fire that is outside the base’s perimeter.

As a result of the fire, people in the Carberry area may see heavy smoke. So far one home has been evacuated and crews are closely monitoring the potential threat to Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Criddle Vane Provincial Park and Swan Lake First Nation.

A large fire near Waterhen and Skownan First Nation is also sending heavy smoke into nearby communities but the province said crews are making good progress on it. 

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