As many as eight homes may have been lost in eight fires that started Monday in the Central Region of Manitoba, according to the province.
The areas include Waterhen, Dauphin River road, Little Saskatchewan First Nation and Fairford First Nation.
The province and RCMP are investigating the cause of the fires but say most of the buildings were out buildings and unoccupied.
At least one home in Gypsumville and four in nearby Little Saskatchewan have been burned, according to Chris Rawluk of Rawluk’s Fine Foods.
“This kind of reminds me of the year Manitoba burned, it’s a few years back now. Actually, we had a couple years where it was really bad, really dry, lots of fires,” Rawluk said.
“This is kind of starting to feel like that. History goes in cycles. Hopefully we can just stress to everybody to remember to be aware, be vigilant, be very cautious with any fire. I haven’t seen this many water bombers flying around in years.”
Little Saskatchewan is located on the northwest shore of Lake St. Martin and is one of the communities that was evacuated because of flooding in 2011. Some people displaced by the flooding are just returning home now.
Rawluk believes that human error is to blame for the blazes near his community.
“They’re frustrated, they’re upset because that’s your home. There’s a lot of things in there of value, memories, things like that. It’s especially tough knowing that it’s somebody who lit this,” Rawluk said.
“Everybody likes to burn in the spring, and it only takes one foolish person to let it get out of hand and then there’s a problem. It would be different if it was lightning or an act of God that there’s really no one you can blame, it’s just bad luck. In this case, there’s certainly someone you can blame.”
There are burn restrictions in place in that part of Manitoba along with much of the southern portion of the province.
Rawluk said he’s not concerned for his safety yet in the small town, but with no rain in sight, it’s certainly on his radar.
“Nothing has greened up yet. It’s very, very dry. If we don’t get any rain and the wind stays up, it’s going to be a concern, but we’re just being very careful and cautious, just keeping that thought in the back of your mind about what’s important in case we had to leave in a hurry.”