Flights carrying evacuees escaping wildfires from Northwest Territories began to arrive in Winnipeg on Saturday.
Portage la Prairie, Brandon and Winnipeg will be housing up to 3,000 of the more than 19,000 people who left Yellowknife Friday afternoon as wildfires burn across the territory.
The first flight landed at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport just before 2 a.m. on Saturday, the airport authority’s website shows.
An evacuation order to the capital city of NWT mandated residents be gone from their homes by noon as wildfires inch closer to Yellowknife.
The Canadian Red Cross will be providing support to evacuees, who will be stationed at hotels across the city to welcome people as they arrive, Leianne Musselman, the organization’s communications director, said in a statement.
Musselman said the government and the Red Cross are determining how best to support those affected.
Mayor Scott Gillingham said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Winnipeg is opening its doors to help fleeing residents.
“The devastation in NWT is terrifying, but Canadian cities always have each others’ backs,” he wrote.
A city spokesperson said they will be providing transit buses to shuttle evacuees from the airport to hotels.
A provincial government spokesperson said evacuees will be provided with shelter, meals and essential health supports as required.
On Saturday the NWT’s provincial website said there were 236 active fires burning and a total of 269 for the year, affecting more than two million hectares.
Meanwhile, a wildfire in West Kelowna is burning out of control, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents.
As of Saturday afternoon, the McDougall Creek wildfire measured 10,500 hectares in size and 2,400 people were ordered to evacuate their homes.
— with files from Iris Dyck