Residents with family near wildfires in Manitoba are closely monitoring the situation –


Late last week, lightning strikes near Cranberry Portage caused multiple fires to break out in the area. Initially there was no major concern, but as winds picked up, the size of the fires rapidly increased and nearly 700 people were evacuated from the community by Saturday evening.

These residents haven't returned yet because the power has been out since Saturday, but they know there will be a mess of spoiled food and other surprises when they return. For now, people are just happy that the community has been spared up to this point.

Flin Flon has also been affected by the fires and although the community was not yet in immediate danger, a thick cloud of smoke enveloped the community and the town was without internet, mobile communications and telephone lines for several days. The fires were also visible from a distance throughout the week.

Fire in the nightResidents of Flin Flon can view the fires from various locations around the city.

Longtime Portage resident Darrell Lee grew up in Creighton, which is in the same area, and much of his immediate family still lives in the community. Lee says he's glad to finally get through to them on Wednesday.

“I tried to reach my brother on Sunday but due to the communication issues they were having, I was unable to get in touch with him. Luckily my mother had left before the fires started and she got out of there, but my brother was finally able to call me back and everything is fine there. There are a lot of air quality issues, but yeah, it was nice to catch up with some family and see that everyone is OK.

Lee has been closely monitoring the situation and knows the area well.

“As someone who used to work for Natural Resources in this area, I know pretty well where the fire is and it is big. It's awfully close to some cottages and from what I understand, some cottages may have been lost, which is always really devastating for everyone.”

Fire areaThe fire is burning near Cranberry Portage and has crossed the highway north of the community.

While the area is usually full of people camping and fishing during the May long weekend, that certainly won't be the case this year. Campgrounds in Bakers Narrows and Grass River provincial parks are closed until at least May 27, including Bakers Narrows, Gyles, Iskwasum Landing and Reed Lake. Manitoba Parks is contacting all affected reservation holders and seasonal campers. Backcountry travel along the Grass River from Cranberry Portage to Reed Lake is prohibited. Many roads in the area also have limited access.

Plenty of rain and cool temperatures are expected across the region over the long weekend, and while that alone won't put out the fire, firefighters are welcoming Mother Nature's help.

HighwayThe fire creates an eerie glow in the sky at night.