Red Cross sets up shelter for Manitoba wildfire evacuees

The Canadian Red Cross is working to evacuate residents of the Mathias Columbus Cree Nation as out-of-control wildfires threaten the remote First Nation of Manitoba.

Officials say the fire has doubled in size overnight and is now just two kilometers from Pukatawagan First Nation’s largest community.

Val Charette works as a mental health therapist. She says the fire has kept her away since Thursday.

“It’s just unbelievable how far the fire has been around the community and how many fires there are,” she said. “We’ve been busy, we’ve had four hours of sleep, trying to do the best we can.”

The Red Cross is helping to evacuate residents to Thompson and The Pass.

“Between the planes and the trains, our goal is to get it out by the end of tonight,” said communications manager Jason Small.

The humanitarian organization is setting up an emergency shelter at the University of Winnipeg for evacuees who run out of hotel rooms.

“It’s not an obvious choice,” said Little. “We prefer that people go to hotels, but we have this if necessary.”

The state government said more resources are coming to fight the fire. The Northwest Territories has sent water bombs to help, and up to 40 firefighters are being flown in from Ontario.

CTV News reached out to the head of state and council of the First Nation but did not hear back.

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