The Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC), Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship and the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization continue to support municipalities and fire departments fighting fires in southeast Manitoba.
Fire officials from the OFC, the department and local fire authorities worked overnight to contain a fire near Vita. At the peak of fire activity, crews from five fire departments responded including personnel from La Broquerie, Emerson, Piney, Vita and Dominion City.
Four homes burned in or near Vita late yesterday. Residents of the town were allowed to return to their homes around 6 p.m. yesterday. Hospital and personal-care home residents who were evacuated from Vita yesterday will return later today. About 20 residences outside Vita in the Rural Municipality of Stuartburn remain evacuated today.
Crews report the fire settled down overnight with lower winds and cooler temperatures. Ground and aerial surveillance will be conducted and firefighting tasks set today.
PR 201 west of Vita remains closed where a timber bridge was destroyed by the fire. Repairs will begin shortly and crews hope to have the road reopened as soon as possible.
A state of local emergency has been declared for the community of Ross in the RM of Tache. Forty homes were evacuated overnight to Ste. Genevieve due to smoke and fire concerns but residents are expected to be allowed to return later today. No injuries have been reported.
Municipal and provincial staff members continue to address fires near St. Malo and the municipalities of Grahamdale and St. Laurent.
Winds are forecast to remain high today, which could cause some areas of concern. Weather forecasts for rain should provide some much-needed precipitation to areas in the southeast tonight and tomorrow.
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship is providing three water bombers to help continue fighting the fires near Vita and Ross.
Due to the dry conditions, backcountry travel restrictions introduced by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship in the eastern region will continue. This includes the area east of PR 302 to the Ontario border and south of the Trans‑Canada Highway to the U.S. border. Backcountry travel is now allowed by permit only.
Under these travel restrictions:
backcountry travel, including hiking and all-terrain vehicles, will not be permitted;
canoeing and boating will be restricted to developed shorelines for landing/launching;
camping will only be allowed in developed campgrounds; and
aircraft will only be permitted to use lakes with developed shorelines or docks.
All forest, mining and quarry operations will only be allowed to operate by permit. Campfires, including those in provincial parks, will only be allowed from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. in approved firepits. For information on the travel restrictions, contact the local Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship office or call 1-204-345-1444.
Burning permits were cancelled in the western, central and eastern regions on Sept. 30. No new permits will be issued.
Cottagers, hikers, residents and other travellers are advised to keep a close eye on local conditions and be prepared to leave quickly if smoke or fire conditions change.
Motorists are advised to check for road closures before heading out. The latest information on road conditions is available anytime at 511 (toll-free), at www.mb511.ca or by following the Twitter account @MBGovRoads.