Little Grand Rapids First Nation fire evacuees start flying home

Rock drilling at Pigeon River to set new poles. (Source: Manitoba Hydro)

Monday marked the end of a months-long evacuation for members of Little Grand Rapids First Nation due to summer wildfires.

According to the Canadian Red Cross, which helped organize the evacuations, flights began to return the more than a thousand members of the First Nation Monday morning and will likely continue until Wednesday.

The Red Cross expects the approximately 500 residents of Pauingassi First Nation, also displaced because of wildfires, to fly home later this week.

The organization began making flight plans after Little Grand Rapids First Nation leadership declared it was safe for members to return home.

The return comes after Manitoba Hydro announced on Saturday that power had been restored to both communities.

The wildfires damaged a remote transmission line that served both First Nations, leaving 89 poles and 35 structures in need of repair.

The lack of road access complicated repairs and forced hydro crews to use helicopters to fly in replacement equipment.

Many of the evacuees have been residing in Winnipeg since July 12 when forest fires threatened the communities.

Politicians and residents alike have been critical over the time Manitoba Hydro spent making the repairs to the power line.

The Red Cross provides disaster assistance to First Nations in Manitoba including transportation, lodging and other supports.


 - With files from CTV's Michael Arsenault