#WinnipegFire, #LittleGrandRapids; #PauingassiFirstNation
Maitoba/Ottawa, May 24 (Canadian-Media): A blaze nearly half the size of Winnipeg continued to burn forcing hundreds of evacuees expected to be flown from fire-threatened eastern Manitoba First Nations on Thursday, media reports said.
The situation was described as chaotic by evacuees
The Red Cross, Armed Forces and a series of small planes helped take more than 600 people from Little Grand Rapids and 45 from Pauingassi First Nation Wednesday as a wildfire greater than 20,000 hectares in size moved toward them.
Manitoba fire/Courtesy of CBCNews
Small said as of early Thursday afternoon, 42 people were still stuck in Little Grand Rapids, and in Pauingassi the number was much higher — 234 were waiting to be taken to Winnipeg.
He said as of noon, 758 people had already been taken out of Little Grand Rapids and another 66 residents from Pauingassi arrived in Winnipeg.
There have already been more than 1,500 people evacuated from four First Nations due to fires this week, including people living in Sapotaweyak Cree Nation and Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation.
The total number of evacuees could reach 2,200 by the end of the day if crews finish evacuations in Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids, said Feely.
Small said planes started flying people out of Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids again early Thursday morning after a break overnight.
Thick smoke from the fire delayed evacuations on Wednesday.
Unusually dry spring conditions have prompted weeks-long burn bans and contributed to the spread of more than 160 fires in Manitoba this spring.
People in parts of Manitoba's Interlake region, between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, were also forced to leave this week due to fires.
Small said a small number of people who left Kinonjeoshtegon First Nation (also known as Jackhead), 225 kilometres north of Winnipeg, are expected to be able to return home Thursday.
Roughly 700 evacuees from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, about 400 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, remain in hotels in Brandon, Swan River and The Pas.
They were forced to leave the community due to fire on Sunday and Monday.
In total, 173 fires are burning in Manitoba. The average number of fires this time of year is 105.