Military launching firefighting assistance campaign against Manitoba wildfires Friday

Dozens of fires continue to blaze across Manitoba as 120 wildfire-trained military personnel are set to start assisting the Manitoba Wildfire Service on Friday.

Manitoba Conservation’s latest fire update reports no communities are at immediate risk, although the growing number of wildfires and increasing smoke have forced the evacuation of another Indigenous community in the province.

Read more: Another Manitoba First Nation forced to evacuate due to wildfires, smoke: Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross said it was helping people with health concerns from Red Sucker Lake First Nation, about 700 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. About 300 people were expected to start flying out of the community on Thursday to stay in hotels in Winnipeg and Brandon. It’s the fifth Manitoba First Nation whose members have been forced to leave their homes this week.

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Most people from the Little Grand Rapids, Bloodvein and Berens River First Nations have left, while Pauingassi First Nation completed its evacuation on Monday. About 2,000 people have been displaced so far, and the number is growing.

Military, out-of-province help coming

Manitoba Conservation didn’t report any new fires on Thursday, but as of Friday morning, 131 fires were burning across the province, the majority of which were scattered across the northern fire region.

Manitoba Conservation’s interactive fire map marks most of the out-of-control fires as northeast and east of Flin Flon.

Members of the military conduct firefighting training at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Man. (Heather MacRae / Canadian Armed Forces). Heather MacRae / Canadian Armed Forces

Members of the military are being deployed to four staging areas in Swan River/Cowan, Gypsumville, Sherridon/Cold Lake and Nopiming Provincial Park, where they’ll establish camps, hold existing fire lines and suppress hot spots, a spokesperson with the Canadian Armed Forces said Thursday. The spokesperson said the personnel would be in Manitoba until at least Aug. 10, possibly longer pending the wildfire situation.

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Master Cpl. Kevin Foley receives firefighting training at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Man. (Heather MacRae / Canadian Armed Forces). Heather McCrae

The province is also receiving support from the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Quebec, along with Parks Canada, with more help expected to arrive from New Brunswick this weekend.

More to come…

–With files from The Canadian Press 

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