A forest fire forces the evacuation of the Cree Nation Mathias Colomb : Red Cross

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Residents of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation are driven from their homes as a wildfire threatens the community in northern Manitoba.

The Canadian Red Cross is supporting First Nations and Indigenous Services Canada in evacuations, spokesperson Jason Small said in an email late Thursday.

Manitoba’s online wildfire map shows an out-of-control blaze of about 1,800 hectares – or 18 square kilometers – in an area near the community of Pukatawagan. This update is Wednesday, while the province says the fire was detected. The cause is listed as natural.

Community member Leo Sinclair said the air around his home was smoky on Thursday after the evacuation notice was announced earlier in the day.

“There’s a bus going…and there’s people standing on the main road. And [the] firefighters are circling to get everyone flying,” Sinclair said over the phone.

“It was really blowing [and] windy yesterday. That’s where it got worse.”

Missinippi Airways said on Facebook Thursday afternoon it would not accept new bookings or freight until the fire situation in the community is under control. It also canceled all flights on Friday.

The Northern Manitoba Air Charter Service said it was working with partners to help evacuate the community.

Small said the Red Cross would provide more information on the situation “in due course.”

The remote community is approximately 710 kilometers northwest of Winnipeg.

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