'The sky was going red': Pimicikamak Cree Nation members describe 'scary' experience of fleeing wildfire
Pimicikamak Cree Nation member Russell McKay is ready to return home after fleeing from a "pretty dangerous" wildfire raging near his community.
At certain points, the smoke was so dark the sun struggled to break through in the northern Manitoba community on Wednesday. McKay said people couldn't even see three feet in front of them as they drove down the one road to and from the First Nation.
While he is grateful for the support they received in the northern Manitoba city of Thompson during the evacuation, McKay said now that it's safe to do so he's eager to return to Cross Lake.
"We're going home now and it's all good," he said.
McKay is one of many Pimicikamak Cree Nation members heading home Thursday after being forced to evacuate the community due to a wildfire burning out of control hours earlier.
Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, residents in the community of about 7,000 people were given three hours to pack up and get out.
Pimicikamak member Tina Ross said it was a scary experience fleeing the community at midnight.
As she left, Ross said she took photos showing the massive plume of smoke towering over Cross Lake.
"The smoke was already spreading and the sky was going red — and those flakes are coming from far away," she said.
Ross arrived safely in Thompson around 6 a.m. Thursday.
Rosanna Sinclair said she didn't think about how much she put in her bag as she packed up to leave, because her focus was on her family's children, and getting them to Thompson safely.
The sky was dark with smoke as they fled and her family wore masks to make breathing easier, Sinclair said.
"It was very scary, especially thinking about the kids at home. And we had to try and fit everyone in our vehicles to get everyone out of the community in our family," Sinclair said.
"It's very tiring to take all our families out, get them ready, and try and not forget anybody back home and make sure everybody is safe."
The municipality of Chibougamau in northern Quebec is the latest to issue an evacuation order due to forest fires. The move came just over an hour after the neighbouring Cree Nation of Oujé-Bougoumou began its evacuation Tuesday evening.
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