Wildfire in south Whiteshell forces some evacuations, damages trailers and RVs

WINNIPEG — A wildfire in the south Whiteshell area crept dangerously close to homes Wednesday night, and with flames still burning throughout the day, water bombers were called back to help.

As of Thursday evening, the fire was still burning near Toniata—now about 50 hectares in size, down from the night before.

Efforts to contain a wildfire continued Thursday as hot spots flared up. Helicopters made laps throughout the day, picking up water and dropping it on the flames burning near Falcon Lake, about 10 kilometres from the Ontario border.

The fire broke out Wednesday afternoon forcing some residents to be evacuated.

“I came up the driveway and was devastated at what I saw,” said Barb Zimmerman, who lives near Toniata.

“The smoke was billowing and throughout the next three, four hours, the bush was flaring up, and yeah, it was scary.”

Zimmerman and Paul Wanke saw the flames inch closer to their home and had grabbed garden hoses to water around the area.

“The wind came right down the driveway blowing the fire towards my home, and I thought, ‘We are done,” Wanke told CTV News.

“If the water bombers would have came five minutes later, our house would have been gone.”

They aren’t the only ones who had close calls.

Whiteshell fireSource: Glenn Pismenny/CTV News

“The fire started just across the street at my neighbours, and luckily the wind was pushing in such a way that it skirted behind the three houses across from us here, and further down into the bush and across the pipeline,” said Dave Turner, who lives in the Whiteshell.

He said the Southeast Whiteshell Fire Department responded to that flare up. Five provincial crews are assigned to the efforts, along with local firefighters and water bombers from Manitoba and Ontario.

About half a dozen trailers and RVs were damaged when the fire reached a storage compound—the ground still smouldering Thursday.

Whiteshell fireSource: Glenn Pismenny/CTV News

Dry conditions have caused wildfires to burn in several parts of the province, including one in the RM of Piney.

While the fight isn’t done yet, residents are thankful for the hard work from everyone involved so far.

It looks like some relief may be on the horizon with showers forecasted in the area Friday and Saturday. 

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