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‘Still a lot of concern’: Uneasy residents return to Cranberry Portage as wildfire rages

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As Cranberry Portage residents return home after being evacuated for days, officials say residents remain uneasy for the wildfire season ahead.

“There’s still a lot of concern and worry,” said Lori Forbes, municipal emergency coordinator with the RM of Kelsey.

“It's a very traumatic, very emotional thing they went through and that's not gone just because they're home.”

Evacuees were given the green light to return home Sunday after a rainy few days in the region.

The province’s latest fire bulletin issued Tuesday said the wildfire was still burning out of control, measuring just under 37,000 hectares in size. However, the province said the fire line near Cranberry Portage was under control, and it was safe for residents to return.

More than 500 people were initially evacuated from Cranberry Portage, plus nearly 200 more from the surrounding region.

Six water bombers, seven helicopters, over 200 provincial personnel, and dozens of firefighters from across the country helped to douse the flames.

At the evacuees’ reception centre in The Pas, Forbes said many stepped up to help.

“There were people that picked up within the community fun things for the kids to do at the reception centre and helped us clear tables, move food, and helped us mop up,” she said.

“These were evacuees that were helping us do that. We wanted to look after them, and they were helping look after us.”

Forbes adds many residents are still uneasy, as the wildfire season is still so young.

It’s a reality, she says, northern Manitobans face every spring and summer.

“There's fire danger every year. We have smoke every year. We have to keep an eye on the wildfires every year. It’s a fact of life, for sure.”

Cottages, homes destroyed by wildfires: province

The province’s most recent fire bulletin has offered a glimpse of the damage from the fire near Flin Flon.

According to the bulletin issued Tuesday, eight properties in Sourdough Bay were destroyed by the fire, including five cottages, two garages and one permanent residence. Another permanent residence was destroyed in Twin Lakes.

“Aerial crews have also identified a small number of structures believed to be damaged in the other areas affected by the fires that will be confirmed by ground crews in the coming weeks as well as damage to any other structures,” the bulletin reads.

Owners of the destroyed properties have been notified.

- With files from CTV’s Daniel Halmarson and Devon McKendrick

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