December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Heavy smoke and falling ash from the sky has forced officials in Gillam to put residents on notice.
The northern Manitoba community, approximately 1,100-kilometres north of Winnipeg, has issued a voluntary evacuation notice for the area due to nearby forest fire activity in the area. A forest fire is burning 35-kilometres west of the town of 1,200 people.
Gillam emergency coordinator Jackie Clayton says the remote community is no stranger to forest fire smoke in the air during the summer months, but Monday’s haze was something townsfolk haven’t seen in a while.
"It was very dark here, starting yesterday afternoon at about 3 o’clock," she said this morning. "By 5 o’clock the streetlights were coming on. Living up here in summer months, we don’t normally have our streetlights come on until just before midnight.
"There was a lot of smoke and ash."
Manitoba Conservation says the fire is not an immediate threat to Gillam. Monday’s high winds, blowing 40 km/h from the west, subsided today, Clayton says, but if the winds change and the smoke and ash return a mandatory evacuation could be issued.
Some residents have already travelled down to nearby Thompson to wait for the smoke to clear.
Gillam officials are asking residents that if they do evacuate voluntarily, to please register their names at the local recreation centre first.
According to the provincial government website, there are 32 active fires burning in Manitoba. To date, there have been 175 forest fires across the province.