Crews prepare ahead of Manitoba wildfire season
As the province enters yet another wildfire season, crews across Manitoba prepare for the usual.
Provincial fire operations manager Cailin Hodder said the season, which normally starts in May, tends to yield significant wildfires. Fires, she said, that are measured not by quantity but by the intensity with which they burn.
There were nearly 200 cases last year. This year’s outlook depends on a number of conditions, according to Hodder, from weather conditions in the summer to moisture levels in the soil.
“We will have our crews ready and trained usually very early (from) May until September,” said Hodder. “We were fortunate this year to have a bit of a wet spring … we’re hopeful that our wildfire season will start later.”
She said there are two ways a wildfire can start: either by people or by natural means. Something small like flicking cigarettes out a car window or leaving an unattended bonfire burning can lead to significant damage.
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Many fires, she noted, can are started by lightning, which can often occur in remote areas.
“A wildfire is most significant when it reaches or is starting to head towards a community. Those are the things we look at the most … the intensity of those fires and those conditions throughout the summer,” said Hodder.
It’s hard to predict what communities could be impacted by wildfires, she said, adding that people should be prepared especially if they’re near dense forestry.
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The province hasn’t reported any active fires yet this year, but updates and information can be found on the province’s website, which provides important details like fire hazard ratings, wildfire prevention tips, and a map of active fires.
The site, Hodder said, is the best source of information for the public and is updated every 24 hours.
“We try to report (information) as quickly as possible,” said Hodder. “Our number one priority is the safety of our crews. The second priority would be to make sure that we’re getting information and (sending) it where it needs to go.”
The province will be hosting a community Wildfire Preparedness Day on May 6, outside the Nite Hawk Cafe at West Hawk Lake in the Whiteshell.
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