The number of wildfires in Manitoba continues to increase, with changes in wind causing suddenly-smoky days as far away as Winnipeg.
According to the province’s latest wildfire update, 152 blazes are burning throughout Manitoba, with crews having the most trouble in regions east of Lake Winnipeg.
Manitoba Wildfire Service Director Dave Schafer said there are worries several blazes in the eastern side of the province could merge together.
“The size of what’s burning on the east side of the province is unprecedented,” Schafer said. “We’re looking at hundreds of kilometres of fire line and we won’t be putting all of that fire out. Mother Nature will have to help out in that area.”
Schafer said in addition to the help from the military and multiple provinces, Manitoba is looking at bringing in international assistance and said 100 firefighters from South Africa could be on the way.
He says the intense situation, combined with limited rain, means the fire fight could last the rest of the summer and into October.
Those smoky conditions, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, aren’t about to go away any time soon.
Meteorologist Sara Hoffman told Global News that, unfortunately, there isn’t much good news in the forecast for Manitoba when it comes to air quality.
“For today and into the long weekend, we’re expecting periods of on-and-off poor air quality due to the nearby forest fire smoke,” she said.
“There may be some periods of reprieve where the air quality health index is at maybe a moderate or a low, but that will soon be followed up by a high-risk air quality at some point over the course of the weekend.”
“We’re dealing with a fairly stagnant weather pattern over the area … that stagnant pattern will trap that forest fire smoke close to the surface, and it will ebb and flow slowly in and out of the Red River Valley, then off and on over the weekend.”
Hoffman said the western part of the province, toward Brandon and into Saskatchewan, may see slightly improved conditions, but even they won’t get off smoke-free.
“It’s essentially the best of the worst.”