Manitoba First Nation declares local state of emergency over wildfire

WINNIPEG — A threatening wildfire has prompted a First Nation in Manitoba's Parkland region to declare a local state of emergency.

The Pine Creek First Nation says flames and smoke near the community 430 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg have people on edge.

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Crews have been fighting the fire since the weekend but warm, windy weather is making their job a challenge.

The province says the fire covers about 100 square kilometres of land.

Helicopters and water bombers are buzzing over the area providing support to crews trying to contain and put out the flames from the ground.

About 100 people in the community on the western side of Lake Winnipegosis had to self-evacuate over the weekend but were allowed to return to their homes on Tuesday.

Pine Creek Chief Karen Batson said dealing with the situation during COVID-19 has been a challenge.

"It is a stressful time," Batson said Wednesday. "We also are trying to access some mental health services with having COVID-19 as well."

Batson said the state of emergency will help the community bring in more resources to deal with the wildfire.

She said what they really need is rain.

"Things can change fairly quickly," said Batson. "So that's why we have to have our community members on alert, have bags packed in case they have to leave quickly we can get them out of the community and to safety."

In nearby Camperville, Mayor Joseph Klyne said community members are also on alert. (CTV, The Canadian Press)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2020

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