WINNIPEG — Two First Nations communities in Manitoba that have been left without power due to wildfires may be waiting three months before the lights are back on, Manitoba Hydro says.
In a letter to Manitoba’s Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton, NDP MLAs Ian Bushie and Adrien Sala said the communities of Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids are facing a long wait time before power may be restored.
“Our understanding is that several kilometres of transmission lines leading to Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids have been affected by the fire, and that as a result, these communities have been told by Manitoba Hydro that they may be waiting upwards of two to three months until power is restored,” the MLAs wrote in the letter.
“The families who have been displaced by these fires deserve for these repairs to be made a top priority.”
A spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro told CTV News it is prioritizing and expediting these repairs.
Hydro completed a damage assessment on Tuesday by helicopter, and while it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, there were still 55 poles and 33 cross arms damaged.
The issue, Hydro said, is the damage is spread out in swampy and boggy areas where road access is not possible, meaning crews and materials will need to be flown in.
The Hydro spokesperson told CTV News the preliminary estimate for repairs is two to three months, though it could be faster depending on what the crews find on the ground.
In a statement to CTV News, Wharton said the province understands the impact these fires have had, and sympathizes with the residents in Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and other remote communities.
“Our government is aware of the post-fire restoration efforts and have been in continuous conversations with Manitoba Hydro,” Wharton said in a statement.
“We have been informed that Manitoba Hydro is exploring all options to restore power to customers in the region and ensure that the community can have a safe return home as quickly as possible.”
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