Wildfire ignites in Whiteshell Provincial Park near Falcon Beach

The public is warned to avoid a section of southeastern Manitoba as several fire crews and water bombers work to extinguish a large forest fire.

The Manitoba Wildfire Service issued a warning about a fire in the southern part of Whiteshell Provincial Park Wednesday afternoon. The service specifically warned to avoid the area around Toniata, a community about 140 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg on the north shore of Falcon Lake.

Firefighters from the Southeast Whiteshell Fire Department, four Wildfire Service crews and water bombers from Manitoba and Ontario are working to put out the fire, which spans roughly 30 to 40 hectares (about 74 to 99 acres), a provincial government spokesperson told CBC News.

The public is urged to stay away from the area for their own safety and so fire crews have room to work, the spokesperson said.

Efforts are being made to protect buildings, trailers and cottages in the area, the spokesperson said.

WATCH | Fire burns south of Whiteshell Provincial Park:

Firefighters from the Southeast Whiteshell Fire Department, four Wildfire Service crews and water bombers from Manitoba and Ontario are working in to put out the fire, which spans roughly 30 to 40 hectares, the Manitoba government says. 0:44

Dana Moore watched the smoke rise from the relative safety of his place on the south shore of Falcon Lake, but he couldn’t help but think about some friends who lost their home in a fire earlier this year.

“It’s very close to there … and it’s close to some other places that are big businesses and people who really support this area,” he told CBC Up To Speed host Faith Fundal Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s worrisome for anybody, but it’s really close to the people who kind of make this community.”

Manitoba is experiencing a drought that has created extremely dry conditions that could allow wildfires to get out of control quickly. There are travel restrictions in place to prevent people from entering areas — including all provincial parks south of the 53rd parallel — suffering from the dry conditions.

Such restrictions were issued for Area 2, which includes the Whiteshell and Falcon Beach area. The Manitoba government has cancelled all existing provincial burning permits in that area and no new permits are to be issued there.

Boats can only be loaded and launched from “developed shorelines,” while aircraft can land and take off from developed docks or shorelines.

WATCH | Wildfire burns near Toniata, Man.:

Despite the efforts of firefighters and waterbombers, the wildfire near Toniata, Man., spanned about 40 hectares as of 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Manitoba Wildfire Service. (Video submitted by Woody Smith) 0:15

Motorized back country travel — including on forestry roads, private roads or trails — is prohibited. But motorized access to cottages on maintained park, municipal and subdivision roads is allowed without a travel permit.

Campfires are allowed in fire pits from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and camping is only permitted on “developed campgrounds.” Wayside parks remain open.

Individuals found guilty of breaking the rules could be fined up to $10,000. Corporations could be ticketed $50,000.

People could also be liable for the costs of extinguishing a wildfire, if they are found burning without a permit during wildfire season.

State of local emergency

The rural municipality of Piney, in the southeast corner of Manitoba, declared a local state of emergency last Sunday after a forest fire burned for 24 hours.

The RM issued an update Wednesday, saying it remains under a local state of emergency and that council has issued a complete burn ban in the area.

The province’s Fireview map measures the wildfire in the rural municipality of Piney at 1,880 hectares — or just over 4,645 acres. The fire was caused by human activity and remains “out of control.”

No structures have been lost due to the fire and the amount of visible smoke has decreased, the RM said in a release.

The burn ban prohibits burning any solid fuel, including campfires, burn barrels and outdoor stoves. Only propane barbecues and propane fire pits are permitted.

Unless there is a risk to the public, the RM will issue another update at 11 a.m. Thursday, the release says.

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