Water bombers bring relief to expanding wildfires along Manitoba-Ontario border
Published Sunday, May 8, 2016 7:34AM CST
Last Updated Monday, May 9, 2016 4:44AM CST
Forest fires straddling the Manitoba-Ontario border more than doubled in size over the weekend.
The fire burning in Nopiming Provincial Park is now 40,000 hectares, four times larger than it was Friday.
About 200 kilometres south, another fire is burning which has tripled in size since Friday, covering 1,000 hectares.
On Sunday, fire crews from Manitoba and Ontario engaged in an aerial attack on the wildfires.
Water bombers and helicopters dumped water on stubborn fires about six kilometers from Caddy Lake.
Not far beyond the plume of smoke is Lynne McNicholl's home in Ingolf, Ontario. She’s lived there for the past 79 years.
McNicholl is one of about 100 evacuees in the area, now staying in Whiteshell Provincial Park. She had three hours to pack Thursday night and hasn't been home since.
"It’s pretty traumatic, I'll tell you, but when they said they have to get out, you get out,” she said watching the water bombers pick up water off Caddy Lake, Sunday. “What can you do. You take what you can and go."
Ontario's Ministry of Natural resources and forestry says these wildfires grew larger, and more fierce on the weekend. Manitoba Sustainable Development says winds fanned the flames forcing another 25 people to flee, and intensified the effort to push the fire back.
A team of water bombers from Manitoba and Ontario have been dumping water on areas where cottages and homes are at risk of burning,
Ontario sent 103 sprinkler kits to protect properties, like Paul Roy's cottage on Macara Lake. The Winnipeg man doesn't want to see the wildfires destroy two years of hard work.
“I guess those winds are what really gave it a lot of havoc,” said Roy from West Hawk Lake. “I just built a brand new cottage so we are pretty concerned."
Officials from both Manitoba and Ontario say no structures have been lost, and people anxious to return home are feeling a sense of relief after seeing water bombers working to put out the fires.
Manitoba Sustainable Development says McDougalls Landing, West Hawk, Florence and Nora are all affected by the wildfires.
Roads and trails in Whiteshell Provincial Park remain closed, and burning permits in much of the province have been cancelled.
While many of them worry about their homes and cottages, local officials in Whiteshell say no structures have been lost on the Manitoba side of the fire.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says the fire near Ingolf is burning intensely. They say they are working to establish ground crews.May 8, 2016
The south Whiteshell emergency plan has been activated, and officials will attempt to install sprinkler kits on structures, the province said in a news release. So far, 103 sprinkler kits have been sent to the area.
Water bombers have been seen in the area, filling up on Caddy Lake before heading to fight the fire.
Due to smoke and fire, access to McDougall’s Landing at West Hawk Lake off PR 312 has been cut off between PTH 44 and Ingolf, Ont. past the West Hawk Lake boat launch.
Whiteshell Provincial Park roads are still open. The province advises travellers to stay away from the area.
Burning bans remain in effect the eastern, central and western areas of the province. Motorized backcountry travel is prohibited between noon and 7 p.m. in eastern Manitoba.
For more info on the fire and travel restrictions in eastern Manitoba call 204-345-1444, or visit the provincial government’s website.
To report a wildfire, call 911 or 1-800-782-0076.