Manitoba crews working to restore power at 2 First Nations after wildfire evacuations

Manitoba Hydro crews and contractors are working throughout the weekend to get power restored to two First Nations in eastern Manitoba after wildfires swept through the area.

The repairs between Bloodvein and Little Grand Rapids could still take around six to eight weeks to complete, spokesperson Bruce Owens told Global News on Saturday.

He said crews need to replace around 100 poles that were damaged by flames that disconnected around 1,500 customers in Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations from power. Crews are in the process of depositing pre-assembled poles along the affected power line.

Read more: Restoring power in First Nation communities could take weeks: Manitoba Hydro

“Residents of both communities are eager, extremely eager to go back home and sleep in their own beds,” Owens said. “We’re doing everything we possibly can to make that happen.

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“We’ve got a large number of staff on site,” he said. “One of the challenges is, because we’re in rugged Canadian Shield country, … not all the poles but many of the poles have to be set in rock, and that involves drilling.”

Crews are pre-assembling poles at a staging area near Bloodvein and need to bring them in via helicopter, Owens said. While Valard Construction is tackling the main restoration project this weekend, low cloud cover is hampering some of the flights.

Manitoba Hydro says crews are pre-assembling poles at a staging area near Bloodvein and need to bring them in via helicopter. Manitoba Hydro / Supplied
Manitoba Hydro says crews are flying in power lines via helicopter, over challenging Canadian Shield terrain that requires them to drill into rock. Manitoba Hydro / Supplied

The residents without power evacuated their communities a number of weeks ago because of the wildfire threat.

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“The underlying mission is to get this line restored as quickly and as safely as possible so that residents of both communities can return home, and when they do return home, when they go to flick on the lights, those lights are there,” Owens said.

For the moment, the threat of wildfire has passed with the recent rains, he said.

As of Friday, more than 100 wildfires were burning across the province, with three listed as out of control on Manitoba Conservation’s wildfire situation report.

Click to play video: 'Update on work to restore power to Manitoba communities affected by wildfires' Update on work to restore power to Manitoba communities affected by wildfires

Update on work to restore power to Manitoba communities affected by wildfires

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