Wildfire evacuation orders lifted for dozens of residents
Published Tuesday, October 2, 2012 1:44PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, October 3, 2012 5:40PM CST
Many residents previously under evacuation orders due to wildfires in southeastern Manitoba were being allowed to return Wednesday.
While some were going back to their homes, others were surveying charred-out remains of houses.
Four homes in or around the Vita area burned in the fires on Oct. 2.
“It was hard, very hard. I wish it (had) never happened,” said Margaretha Martens, one of the residents whose home burned.
“We lost everything," she said.
No injuries were reported in the fires, said the province.
On Tuesday, more than 300 other residents in Vita were allowed to return home.
The bridge west of the Vita community on PR 201 was, however, burned by wildfires. Smoke obscured the scene Tuesday and one driver plunged through the burned-out bridge, but was OK.
Provincial officials said repairs will start soon and crews hope to have the road re-opened as quickly as possible.
"Municipal and provincial staff members continue to address fires near St. Malo and the municipalities of Grahamdale and St. Laurent. Winds are forecast to remain high today, which could cause some areas of concern," said the province in a statement Wednesday.
Water bombers and bulldozers were being used to aid in the fire fight.
The province said burning permits were also cancelled on Sept. 30.
Campfires, including those in provincial parks, are only allowed from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. in approved fire pits.
Backcountry travel restrictions have also been put into place in eastern parts of Manitoba, including the area east of PR 302 to the Ontario border and south of the Trans-Canada Highway to the U.S. border. Information on the travel restrictions is available by calling local Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship offices, or by calling 1-204-345-1444.
Along with the previous evacuations around Vita, about 40 homes in the town of Ross were also temporarily evacuated.
Dan and Susan Gendron and their three dogs spent Tuesday night in their minivan, forced to pack up and leave their home as swiftly as possible.
“So, we started to get stuff together as quick as we could and five minutes later, another RCMP (officer) showed up and said, ‘You gotta go,’” said Don Gendron.
On Wednesday afternoon, winds changed directions and officials said Ross residents would be allowed to return home.
People in the community of Richer were on guard, meanwhile, with the winds pushing fires towards that area for the second time in two days.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the province said crews were winning the fire fight, with changes in weather helping.
Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for Vita and other parts of southeastern Manitoba, with rain and snowfall expected to hit Thursday.