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Forest fires fill northern Manitoba sky with smoke

A fire burns near Ilford, in northern Manitoba, in early June. Fires in the region are expected to significantly impact air quality.
A fire burns near Ilford, in northern Manitoba, in early June. Fires in the region are expected to significantly impact air quality. Youtube

WINNIPEG – Forest fires are blanketing northern Manitoba with smoke.

The communities of Tadoule Lake, Gillam, Shamattawa, Churchill and York are all experiencing reduced air quality because of the smoke, Environment Canada said in a special air quality statement.

A 1,200-hectare out-of-control fire about five kilometres northwest of Tadoule Lake is causing the most concern at this point, Gary Friesen, manager of the Manitoba Conservation fire program, said Monday morning.

Fire crews and water bombers are fighting the blaze and the wind is now blowing from the south, which is helpful, Friesen said.

“That area is supposed to get rain today and tomorrow,” he said.

Crews have had some success fighting an out-of-control fire near Split Lake and evacuees were allowed to return on Friday.

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Crews also continue to work on fires near Gillam and Nelson House, but those older fires are no longer out of control, Friesen said.

The northeast has had 299 fires so far this year, well below the average 382, but far more than in southern Manitoba, where rain has kept the number of fires low, Friesen said.

“The north just hasn’t had that good, general, large amount of rain,” he said.

Visibility in the north will be restricted at times, and the air quality health index will be moderate to high, the Environment Canada statement said.

The effects will be worst at night and ease during the day, the weather service said.

Environment Canada forecasters predict little improvement over the next few days.