Many parts of the Interlake have been on high alert since the end of April, with some areas only just recently lifting their fire bans.
The RM of Grahamdale’s Municipal Burning Ban is still in effect, according to a local notice published on their website June 1, as they narrowly averted disaster at the end of last month.
From May 21 to 25, Grahamdale’s Emergency Coordinator, Nyla Klatt, was called into action to help feed and organize volunteer teams of firefighters, contractors, support workers, local emergency team volunteers and members of the office of the fire commissioner in Camper Hall.
“Some days I was feeding up to 250 people,” Klatt told The Interlake Spectator on June 5, who has served in her role since 2009.
“I (coordinated) all the food and the (special) equipment,” she explained.
“A couple of times we thought we would have to pack up and move out.” Klatt said that she felt there were enough people protecting Camper Hall that if they needed to go, they would have been told.
“It was like there (were) no boundaries, it was all one. Everybody was there to help everybody. The volunteers (were) just awesome and the donations of food and water (were) just superb. It didn’t take long for them to fill our cupboards,” she said.
Camper Hall began requesting donations on May 21, asking for lunch meats, bread, cookies, veggies, sandwich bags, brown lunch bags, and bottles of water for about one day before they closed their doors to donations on May 23.
“The Camper Hall food donations flowed today. Donation drop offs can be made at the RM Office in Ashern and also at the Eriksdale Municipal Office before 5 p.m.,” said Klatt’s media spokesperson, Shawn Cote, in a Facebook posts via The Around Town, Blue Raven Design & Print page.
“Several fire (departments) have come to help battle the blaze near Ashern/ Camper/Mulvihill and we are so grateful. Also, to everyone inside the hall taking care of everyone on site - thank you,” she said on May 23.
“We arrived at 1 p.m. for our shift and met fantastic volunteers from the Lundar area and saw some familiar faces too. Later, Sherryl Woloshyn (a resident of Fisher Branch) arrived with a truck filled with supplies that they and others in their area collected together. They heard about the donation request online.”
The delivery included specialized items like gloves, paper towels and hand sanitizer, according to Cote. It also included supplies for the admin side of the job; notepads, felt pens and post-it notes.
“They thought of everything and stayed to assist in the kitchen afterward. Incredible group,” Cote said.
Klatt said she had anywhere between 24 and 30 fire departments in her staging area in Camper Hall while the crews fought the fires. Only two families were evacuated by the RCMP.
“I just want to thank everybody for their help, the firefighters, my team in the kitchen, just everybody,” Klatt said of her experience with the close call that resulted in zero casualties, zero structural damage and the coming together of the communities.
The RM’s council has decided to ease off on the restrictions and will permit contained fires, meaning locals can enjoy a campfire in their fire pits only, according to the RM of Grahamdale local notice published on June 1 on their website.
Their ban on off-road vehicles and open field burning remains in effect and continues to restrict any bonfires or fireworks.
“If you are planning on having a campfire, please be responsible and make sure it is put out when you are done, not leave it unattended, and please have a hose or bucket of water handy in case it gets a little too big,” the notice said.
Many fires were reportedly begun by “humans” according to Manitoba’s Sustainable Development page on their website. Some fires that were recorded as only covering 650 hectares on May 20 grew to 6550 hectares by June 3.
As of June 1, the total number of fires in Manitoba was 206, well above the 20-year average of 121 for this date.
A list of parks with campfire restrictions can be found at manitobaparks.com. Visitors to provincial parks should check with park staff for the most up-to-date information.
For additional information on these restrictions, contact the nearest Manitoba Sustainable Development office. To report a wildfire, call 911 or the T.I.P. line (toll-free) at 1-800-782-0076.