Three Manitoba First Nations communities in the Island Lakes area are being evacuated as wildfires and smoke grow closer.
About 2,000 people from Wasagamack First Nation were moved by boat to St. Theresa Point First Nation Tuesday night and the Red Cross is now trying to move community members to hotels throughout the province. Another 1,700 from St. Theresa and Garden Hill are also being flown out.
Planes have been sourced from across the country to get people out as quickly as possible. Five are already in the air and set to land in Brandon, Man. Wednesday afternoon.
“It started yesterday, late in the afternoon,” Gary Friesen, Manitoba Conservation’s fire program manager said. “That’s when the first real threat came from this fire. And again, it’s because it’s wind driven and very high temperatures and low relative humidity forced the fire along extremely fast.”
WATCH: Canadian Red Cross provides overview of Manitoba wildfire evacuations
The Red Cross calls it the largest evacuation in recent memory.
“In the last couple of years this is probably the largest evacuation, in one area, due to fires,” Shawn Feely, Red Cross VP for Manitoba and Nunavut said Wednesday.
834 were evacuated from Poplar River one week ago.
With wildfires threatening such a large area the Red Cross said there is no one community that has enough hotels for everyone.
“People are stressed,” Feely said. “We are trying to get as many people out today as possible.”
The Red Cross said since Tuesday hundreds of people from Wasagamack First Nation were moved to St. Theresa Point.
The Red Cross said at this point the wildfires have not burned any homes.
“A few structures were in danger, but at this point, as of a couple of hours ago, there were no structures that have been affected, that have been burned,” Feely said.
Judy Klassen, the MLA for the area, told Global News many people are scared.
“There’s complete panic. There’s a lot of worry in the community because we’ve been through this before, forest fires that have taken out homes. There’s a real danger from the smoke because it’s not a campfire, the smoke it hurts your lungs and burns your eyes,” she said.
Flights out of St. Theresa Point Airport are being organized by the Red Cross, taking people to Brandon and Winnipeg where they will stay in hotels.
The Red Cross estimates about 2,000 people from Wasagamack will be evacuated while more than 850 from St. Theresa Point and around 850 people from Garden Hill.
For those evacuated from Poplar River and Wasagamack First Nations, Canada Post announced that mail will be available to pickup from the 266 Graham Avenue location in Winnipeg.