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Free Press Article – Bone-dry conditions worry firefighters, cottagers

Posted on: May 3, 2021  |  

WCA President, Kerry Davies was recently interviewed about the dry conditions and wildfire risk.

From the Free Press  https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/bone-dry-conditions-worry-firefighters-cottagers-574337772.html

 

By: Cody Sellar
Posted: 4:00 AM CDT Monday, May. 3, 2021
Last Modified: 7:16 AM CDT Monday, May. 3, 2021 | Updates

 

It could be a gruelling summer for firefighters in southern Manitoba as tinder-dry conditions have set the stage for a wild season of wildfires.

It could be a gruelling summer for firefighters in southern Manitoba as tinder-dry conditions have set the stage for a wild season of wildfires.

Fire crews in Winnipeg battled 39 wildfires in April; there were 200 during all of last year.

People who illegally burn leaves, grass or other debris can be held liable if neighbouring properties go up in flames, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service assistant chief Mark Reshaur said.

Outside the city, 20 wildfires have burned more than 12,000 acres since late March.

In Gimli, water-bomber pilots have been preparing for battle, practising takeoffs, water-loading on Lake Winnipeg and landing.

Conditions have raised concerns among vacation-property owners in numerous areas. Kerry Davies, president of the Whiteshell Cottagers Association, said there is abundant deadfall to fuel flames scattered throughout the provincial park.

“Cottagers are concerned about the lack of precipitation overall,” he said.

“There is a concern that there are some roads in the Whiteshell that are one road in, meaning there’s only one road out if a fire does happen.”

The association keeps a close eye on the situation and speaks to provincial officials almost daily, he said.

Manitoba Wildlife Service director Dave Schafer said this time of year, before grass, trees and plants begin to flourish is prime for wildfires to quickly spread.

“Fires travel really fast in dried grass,” he said. Although they may not be as high as a forest fire in northern Manitoba, they move quickly, and they have a lot of heat and intensity.”

The prime suspect in fires later in the year are usually lightning strikes during electrical storms, but in the spring it’s almost always people, he said.

“At this time of year, it’s more like 90 per cent,” he said, noting careless behaviour started all 20 fires his service has recorded so far this year.

The entire southern part of the province is dealing with drought conditions, he said, urging Manitobans to avoid using equipment that sparks, and keep water and fire extinguishers on hand.

To prepare for wildfire season, the province will be drawing resources from northern Manitoba into the south, he said.

Winter snowfall and some remaining snow cover should protect northern areas from severe blazes, allowing for the reallocation of crews and equipment to the south, Schafer said.

He said an additional five seasonal firefighting crews will bring the total to about 41 groups of four or five people each.

fpcity@freepress.mb.ca

Fire prevention

For property owners and caretakers:

 

  • Thin and prune vegetation
  • Clean up brush, leaves, grass and debris
  • Plant fire-resistant plants and avoid combustible plants
  • Water plants often.
  • Store firewood at least 10 metres away from structures
  • Position fire pits in open areas

 

For general public:

 

  • Do not throw cigarette butts into vegetation, including grass.
  • Do not burn yard waste, garbage or scrap material on your property. You can be fined for doing so.
  • Only burn clean, dry, untreated wood in fire pits.
  • Use fire pits enclosed on all times with mesh screens to catch sparks. You can be fined for failing to do so.
  • Always keep something nearby to extinguish fires.
  • Do not start fires when wind speeds exceed 25 km/h. You can be fined for doing so.

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Hello WCA, Here are the new items for today. - Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River (we have provided the link below and some of the key lake points). The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Please see www.hydro.mb.ca/corporate/facilities/water_levels/ to view the forecast.- The shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision has been included in the 100 metre from shore prohibition on recreational motor boat use. Whiteshell Provincial Park: May 27, 2022 A local state of emergency has been declared for Whiteshell Provincial Park on May 20, 2022 due to rising water levels within the park. Developed areas at Betula Lake were closed on May 21, 2022. This closure area was expanded (May 24) to include Sylvia Lake, Otter Falls, Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake areas. No person should reside or enter into the closed area. Please visit the Manitoba Parks Website www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/ to see a map of the closure. This applies to all cottage subdivisions, commercial areas, campgrounds, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails, and beaches with within the order area. During the closure no person should reside or enter into the closure area of the park. Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River. Water continues to rise significantly along the lakes that make up the Winnipeg River system (Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor, and Sylvia Lakes as well as Pointe du Bois) as water moves downstream from Lake of the Woods. Water levels rise quickly in these areas due to natural restrictions along the river. Please see www.hydro.mb.ca/corporate/facilities/water_levels/ to view the forecast. Manitoba Hydro is predicating an increase of water levels from the current high water over the next 10 to 14 days, as follows: • 6 inches upstream of Eight Foot Falls. • 10 inches in Nutimik Lake. • 9 inches in Dorothy Lake. • 11 inches in Margaret/Eleanor Lake. • 1 foot in Sylvia Lake. • 8 inches upstream of Silver Falls. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions pose a significant risk to public safety. Manitoba Parks continue to monitor safety and water levels inside the closure area, additional safety measures may be applied if required. Manitoba Parks has been contacting all permanent residents in the closure area. If you have not been contacted by Manitoba Parks staff to register, please call the parks line at 204-340-6769 and leave a message with your name, lot, block, subdivision, and ask to be added to the permanent residents list. You will then be called back to register. Water levels improvement are being seen in all areas south of the Winnipeg River. Falcon, West Hawk, Star, Caddy, Brereton, White, and Jessica Lakes are reporting a decrease today. One log was also inserted into the West Hawk Dam on May 26 to slow the downstream flow, this change will take a few days to positively impact Jessica and White Lake. Manitoba Parks staff are working in conjunction with staff from the department of Manitoba, Transportation and Infrastructure to monitor lake levels and adjust control structures where possible. This includes monitoring structures for blockages. Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Pay attention to signage, and barricades. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in the event of further damage to the seawall. Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, Jessica Lake at the garbage collection site, the parking lot across from Brereton Lake Resort, the West Hawk maintenance yard, and the causeway at Falcon Lake. There are a limited number of pre-filled bags at the Jessica Lake and Pointe du Bois depots. PR 307 from the west park entrance to the PR307/309 junction, and PR 312 near Caddy Lake is closed to all traffic. PR 309 near Meditation Lake is restricted to local traffic only. We encourage everyone to check manitoba511.ca before travelling. You can call 511 anywhere in Manitoba to get updates by phone. Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. White Lake Block 4 is closed to vehicle use. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk, and Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas. The following boat launches are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: 8 Foot Falls, Big Creek, White Lake, Jessica Lake, South Shore Big Whiteshell, and Toniata. West Hawk and Falcon Beach Campground Boat launches have been re-opened. Public can expect open launches to be without docks, high water is preventing repair and placement of docks throughout the park. Please use caution and courtesy when boating. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface. Please be advised that you cannot visit the closed area of the park by boat. Access is not allowed to your cottage or recreational areas via the Winnipeg River. No landing in the closed area is allowed. Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls). To minimize potential erosion caused by boat wakes, recreational motor boat restrictions are in place. Recreational motor boat traffic is prohibited from operating within 100 metres of the shoreline on: West Hawk, Falcon, Caddy, Star, Brereton, Jessica, White, Big Whiteshell, Betula, Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor Lakes, and the shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision in Whiteshell Provincial Park. When exiting or approaching the shoreline, boats should move directly out from land and avoid creating a wake. The following hiking trails are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Hunt Lake. All backcountry campsites in Whiteshell Provincial park are closed due to flooding, high water conditions and frequently changing portage conditions. Campers should check the Manitoba Parks homepage for the status of campgrounds prior to coming to the park. Several campgrounds have full or partial closures. All campground in the closure area will remain closed until this portion of the park reopens (Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw, Nutimik Lake, and Otter Falls). In addition, White Lake Campground is closed (seasonal and nightly) and nightly camping is closed in Big Whiteshell Campground. Phone Numbers/ Websites:• Parks info line for water, flood and closures: 204-340-6769 between 8am and 6pm daily. • To report an emergency please contact the RCMP via 911 if located in the South Whiteshell, 204-348-7177 in the North Whiteshell, and 204-345-8685 in Pointe du Bois. • Camping Information 1-888-482-2267 for the Parks Reservation Service. • Environment, Climate and Parks General inquiry line 1-800-214-6497. • Highway conditions: Manitoba511.ca • Manitoba Parks: manitobapark.com for a list of other closures.• Manitoba Hydro Water Flow New Release: www.hydro.mb.ca/articles/2022/05/manitoba_hydro_advises_extreme_caution_on_waterways/• DFA Information: www.gov.mb.ca/emo/dfa/residence.html, dfa@gov.mb.ca or by phone at 204-945-3050. ... See MoreSee Less
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Regular weekly Hydro report for Winnipeg River LakesNOTE: this is a 7 day forecast, the earlier one was 10-14 day - so the numbers are different ... See MoreSee Less
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Posted on Caddy lake page (Dennis Dyck) – “ Found floating on Caddy Lake; blue plastic barrel. Still has both bung caps installed, so likely used as a float support rather than a weight. A marathon canoe with a # 32 painted on it. A 5 gallon jerrycan If these items belong to you please pick them up at block 9, lot 25. Thanks ... See MoreSee Less
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Sheila Dancho – “I have lost two sections of stairs that look like these. Please post to your page. Thanks for your help. Contact info 2042663066 Sheila Dancho from The Nutimik Island” ... See MoreSee Less
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