Nearby wildfire leads to state of emergency in northern Manitoba community

WATCH: Video from Cross Lake resident Precious Umpherville captured the evacuation from the northern Manitoba area late Wednesday night. Wildfires can be seen from across the lake by the tree line and near the road as evacuees drive by.

A large wildfire has impacted thousands in the Cross Lake area, and led to the evacuation of a northern Manitoba community.

Chief and council of Pimicikamak Cree Nation declared a state of emergency overnight as residents are threatened by a 1,200-hectare blaze — around the size of 2,300 football fields.

Pimicikamak Chief David Monias told Global News that some community members are trying to find places to stay in Winnipeg, while others are waiting in Thompson and The Pas.

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A wildfire rages near Cross Lake, Man.

A wildfire rages near Cross Lake, Man.

Submitted / Kurri Ross

Monias said the fire kept growing and getting too close for comfort.

“It was about 9:00 in the evening last night, and we had to start moving people — there’s about 7,000 people that live in the community,” he said.

Monias said Indigenous Services Canda has been contacted and community members are going wherever they can find a room.

“(We’ve been) trying to find accommodations — trying to make sure people have a ride.”

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Jason Small of the Canadian Red Cross told 680 CJOB’s Connecting Winnipeg the organization is trying to find hotel rooms for all of the evacuees — with around 200 people already temporarily housed as of early Thursday morning.

“Our team was already working on expanding that as quickly as we can,” Small said.

“We have access to rooms in Brandon, and we’re working here in Winnipeg to find more rooms.”

In a message to Global News, Cross Lake resident Precious Umpherville said ashes and burnt pine trees were falling in the evening, and when evacuations began by 9 p.m., people were smelling smoke in their homes.

“By that time, it was really smoky outside and getting harder to breathe,” Umpherville said.

“We doubled our face masks, on our way out… we were in a long line up to get gasoline, as the local safety officers and RCMP were assisting everyone out back and forth, we gassed up at the PCN gas bar.

“By the time we left it was turning 12 (a.m.), and (as we) left towards out of town, the smoke was heavy… we had to cover our face with our sleeves, including the double masks we had on.”

Umpherville said she’s currently staying in Thompson.

Global News has reached out to the province for more information.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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