Residents of Cranberry Portage were evacuated on Saturday as a fire was coming straight for the municipality.

Cranberry Portage is about an 8 ½ hour drive from North of Steinbach and is located in between The Pas and Flin Flon.  

Anita Wiens, a co-owner of Viking Lodge in Cranberry Portage and former resident of Steinbach, says that on Saturday at 8 pm, the entire community was notified that they had two hours to evacuate.  

About 20 minutes after the first notification, they were told they had 10 minutes to evacuate.  

“The fire was coming straight for us. The winds were gusting up to 45 km/h and it was totally out of control, heading straight for the town,” she says. “You're almost in a shock mode. I took a suitcase and threw all my photograph albums in there, grabbed pictures off the walls and into the truck, and off we went.”  

Wiens and her husband Paul managed to evacuate into an Airbnb in Rocky Lake, just South of Cranberry Portage.  

"We thank the Lord there was something available, and that is where we are right now sitting here just monitoring what is happening.”  

Residents were loaded onto buses and headed out to Flin Flon and The Pas.  

"Everything in The Pas is full, all the hotels, the Airbnb’s, everything in Flin Flon as well.”  

Wiens says crews managed to put sprinklers up on every homestead on the edges of the municipality during Saturday night and early Sunday morning.  

“We have to be so thankful for the firefighters and the crews that all came out, some from Saskatchewan, some from Ontario, Winnipeg, Brandon.”  

Paul Wiens and his brother Matthew were asked to come help with the sprinklers, they report back that currently there are no homes in danger at this point.  

The two are now on standby to help with anything that they can in the town.  

“We were praying last night for the winds to calm down and for it to change direction, and this morning it is basically calm and the wind has turned direction away from the town. It is blowing East now instead of North.”  

She is very thankful for everyone who has been reaching out to offer their support.  

“I just want to thank so many people from Steinbach just reaching out and praying and for protection, that part has been overwhelming how everybody just pulls together.” 

Wiens says the fire had come within just under a kilometer of the town.  

“It was scary, it was very overwhelming, and we have to thank the firefighters, the RCMP, who were making sure that absolutely everybody got out, putting them on buses.”  

She says the smoke was unbelievable throughout the day on Saturday, and they couldn’t see much.  

“Our premises overlook the lake, the water looked like it was bright orange from the embers and stuff. It looked like the whole lake had changed color,” she says. “It was like a nightmare, and it was something so not real. The flames shooting up all of a sudden there was another ball in the air of just bright red flames. It was almost like there was just somebody pouring gas, that's how the fire was moving.”  

Photo below: (l-r) Matthew, Sharnell, Anita and Paul Wiens