Eastern Manitoba wildfires fueled by hot, dry conditions, high winds; Bissett fire has grown to 18,000 ha.

Audrey Dixon

Audrey Dixon

Oct 7, 2011 – Government of Manitoba

WINNIPEG, Manitoba , October 7, 2011 (press release) – Manitoba Conservation and the Office of the Fire Commissioner are working with several municipalities and departments to tackle fires across eastern Manitoba.
Hot, dry conditions and high winds are driving grass and brush fires in several areas of eastern Manitoba including Bissett, Stuartburn and Lac du Bonnet.
Caution is advised in all eastern areas of the province. Cottagers, hikers, residents and other travellers should keep a close eye on local conditions and be prepared to leave quickly if smoke or fire conditions change.
New burning permits will not be issued for eastern Manitoba and any permits that have been issued are now cancelled. Campfires are allowed within enclosed fire pits.

Stuartburn Fire

In the RM of Stuartburn, crews battled three separate fires through the night. A state of emergency was declared by the municipality yesterday evening.
Approximately 60 residents have been evacuated from their homes and are staying with friends and family. The RM has established a reception centre in Vita.
At this time, firefighters have been able to save all properties.
Assistance from neighbouring municipal fire departments has been provided including
75 firefighters from 10 municipal fire departments and the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC). The OFC continues to co-ordinate resources to provide relief and backup support during this incident.
Manitoba Conservation has dispatched four water bombers to deal with the Stuartburn fire as winds and weather conditions allow.

Bissett Fire

The fire near Bissett has grown to 18,000 hectares and is approximately 40 km long and six km wide. Firefighting efforts are being hampered by the strong winds.
Currently, four remote cabins are at risk and sprinkler kits have been deployed.
At this time, approximately 50 firefighters and support staff are working on this fire at Long Lake near Bissett.
PR 304 east of Bissett and west of Wallace Lake was closed yesterday and remains closed due to fire crossing the highway and heavy smoke.
Eight firefighters arrived from Ontario today and 21 firefighters from British Columbia will arrive tomorrow to help fight this fire.

Other Fires

A fire in the Lac du Bonnet area is being successfully held.
Work continues to contain a 1,500-hectare fire at the Peguis First Nation.
A small fire near Bird Lake in Nopiming Provincial Park is not posing a threat at this time.

Weather

Strong, south winds are expected to continue through the day and begin shifting to the southwest this evening to the northwest by tomorrow. Some rain is predicted in the southern area. Temperatures will be cooler, but still above normal for this time of year.

Smoke Conditions

Smoke levels from fires may vary considerably due to fire conditions and wind directions. Exposure to smoke can cause sore eyes, tears, coughing and a runny nose.
If the smoke lasts days to weeks or is very heavy, it can cause lung problems and a longer-lasting cough. Exposure to smoke can also make heart and lung conditions worse.
People who are at higher risk such as young children, the elderly and people with heart or lung conditions should consider taking precautions when smoke conditions are light to moderate. This is usually indicated by a smoke odour and haziness or visibility that is less than eight km.
Manitobans with questions or concerns can contact their health-care provider or call Health Links–Info Santé at 788-8200 or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257.
For more information on the health effects of smoke, visit: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/environmentalhealth/smoke.html.

Road conditions may also be affected by smoke and fire. The most up-to-date highway information is at www.gov.mb.ca/mit/roadinfo/ or toll-free 1-877-MBRoads (1-877-627-6237) and on Twitter by following @MBGov.

For more information, see www.manitoba.ca/wildfire.

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