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This article was published 10/10/2011 (2957 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
RESIDENTS of four communities in southeastern Manitoba who were chased from their homes by forest fires at the start of the weekend are safely back, but another community is under threat.
The Caliento fire — which chased residents from Sandilands, Woodridge, Caliento and Lonesand — was about five kilometres east of Marchand Monday afternoon.
David Schafer, acting fire commissioner for Manitoba, said the wild, windy weather that led to the community evacuation orders at the start of the weekend has been replaced by more favourable conditions.
Schafer said Monday's rain has helped slow the spread of the fire, but it won't be enough to extinguish it.
"It's close enough (to Marchand) that it's causing concern," Schafer said.
"What we need is a good (2.5 cm) of rain, but that's not in the forecast."
The Caliento fire has consumed 15,000 hectares and is considered out of control.
Water bombers have been aiding 160 firefighters from 27 different municipal fire departments.
The only good news is that the residents of Sandilands, Woodridge, Lonesand and Caliento were allowed to return to their homes in time to celebrate Thanksgiving Monday.
Marchand, a community of about 200 residents, is 12 kilometres southeast of Steinbach on Highway 210 and about 80 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.
Alain Nadeau, fire chief in the RM of La Broquerie, said firefighting command was moved to a spot about 13 kilometres east of Marchand.
"We're trying to back-burn now," Nadeau said of Monday's efforts.
Schafer said the province experienced a normal forest fire situation during the summer, but added the drought that hit the southeast area has turned the region into a tinderbox.
"We've had (forest fire) concerns in October before but... this is the largest fire we've had to worry about at this time of year," Schafer said.
Schafer said it appears this fire will continue to burn until a heavy rainfall or winter arrives.
Elsewhere, the fire near Bissett at Long Lake continues to burn in an area of about 18,000 hectares — 40 kilometres long and six kilometres wide.
No structures have been lost because of the Bissett fire, but it's being fought on the ground by about 116 firefighters and in the air by eight helicopters and water bombers.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.