Forest fire forces evacuations from Sapotaweyak Cree Nation

'A constant fight': Community members stay behind to protect Sapotaweyak Cree Nation from wildfires

A forest fire burning near Sapotaweyak Cree Nation forced evacuations from the Manitoba community Sunday evening.

Chief Nelson Genaille said an estimated 500 people were being transported out of the community, located on Dawson Bay in the north section of Lake Winnipegosis, as of 10:30 p.m.

The evacuation was limited to the elderly, people with medical conditions and those with young children he said, adding the community has a population of roughly 1,400.

The chief says RCMP and officials from Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization ordered the evacuations Sunday afternoon and the Red Cross was helping to orchestrate the process.

The evacuees were being taken by school bus to hotels in The Pas and Swan River.

Community member Anne Bourassa said she first noticed the fire burning Sunday morning when reached by CBC News through Facebook.

Bourassa used the social media site to post photos and video of the fire and water bombers fighting the blaze throughout the day Sunday.

Genaille said the flames were getting close to homes in the community and a full evacuation could be ordered if the fire gets any closer or if the air quality gets worse as a result of the smoke.

There's no word on the exact size of the fire or what sparked the blaze, but Genaille says the heat and dry conditions Sunday didn't helping efforts to put it out.

He said three water bombers and a helicopter were fighting the fire Sunday.

Sapotaweyak Cree Nation is located 404 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

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