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Wildfire threat eases in Manitoba


Fires force evacuations in southern Manitoba
Fires force evacuations in southern Manitoba

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

October 9, 2011 — Fires burning in southern Manitoba forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes on Friday, but the situation is improving.

Friday's peak wind gusts in Manitoba
Friday's peak wind gusts in Manitoba

About 400 people from the villages of Sandilands and Woodridge were forced to flee as flames encroached on their communities. However, firefighters have been making progress, and evacuees could be back in their homes by the end of the day Sunday.

Evacuation orders were also lifted for the rural municipality of Stuartburn, including the villages of Caliento and Lonesand.

Numerous fires are burning across the province's southeast, including a large fire that has consumed 18,000 hectares near Bissett.

Conservation officials say the record heat and dry conditions that have dominated parts of Manitoba this week aren't helping with containment efforts. In some places, the fire danger rating has been pushed to extreme.

Tree damage from the winds in Manitoba Friday
Tree damage from the winds in Manitoba Friday

Strong winds have been another factor. Gusts of up to 108 km/h were reported in Winnipeg on Friday. There was also some damage reported in parts of the province, including snapped trees.

In addition to out-of-province fire fighters working around the clock, water bombers are being used to help contain the flames.

Officials are urging residents to be vigilant and take extreme caution over the Thanksgiving long weekend. Some regions have banned both burning and open fires and burning permits in eastern Manitoba have been cancelled.

With files from Lyndsay Morrison

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