Pukatawagan evacuees return home
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OTTAWA — The Canadian Red Cross has started returning Mathias Colomb Cree Nation band members to their reserve at Pukatawagan after last month’s wildfire evacuation.
The community 700 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg is accessible by train, planes and ice roads.Some of the 2,000 evacuees were noticed Sunday that the first three return flights out of Brandon and The Pas were to take place Monday.
Provincial officials believe a fire started July 13 in a remote area and quickly got out of control, prompting an evacuation order the next day. Weather conditions helped firefighters keep the blaze from reaching homes, while Manitoba Hydro has installed generators as it works to replace 77 damaged power lines along remote terrain.
Some of the 2,000 evacuees were noticed Sunday that the first three return flights out of Brandon and The Pas were to take place Monday. The notices instructed evacuees to leave suitcases at the hotel for delivery later in the week.
On a Facebook notices page, the band said its train from The Pas should be operating later this week, while the generators are powering water, sewage, and Internet connections.
“Being in our Treaty Six territory is the comfort of home… we feel settled,” Mathias Colomb Chief Lorna Bighetty wrote in a Hydro news release last week. “We will rest at night and rise in the morning knowing that our families are safe.”
— Dylan Robertson