As forest fires threaten communities in northern Manitoba, a spokesperson for the province says the situation is much different down here.

Glenn Miller is the Eastern Region Wildfire Superintendent. He says fire hazard levels in southeastern Manitoba are quite low at the moment. 

"Sandilands is in a good position right now compared to the rest of the province," says Miller. "As a whole and based on how other conditions are throughout the province, we're looking in good shape."

Miller says two days of rain in the southeast is very welcome. He notes not only does it reduce the threat and fire hazard in the southeast, but it also allows the province to send help to other parts of Manitoba battling fires.

"It's greatly needed, appreciated and it's very timely for us right now," adds Miller. 

According to Miller, there is not much threat right now of lightning strikes setting off forest fires in southeastern Manitoba. 

"Our current levels and conditions with this spring season they are not typically conducive for lightning," adds Miller. 

But Miller says the northwest part of the province is a different story. He notes conditions are much drier there and fires are starting from lightning strikes. In the southeast, he notes fires are largely caused by humans. 

Provincial burning permits are required for outdoor fires set within the burn permit area from April 1st to November 15th annually. To check for municipal burning restrictions, click here. Burn permit holders are reminded to check weather conditions, have adequate suppression equipment, and ensure proper fuel breaks are in place before burning. Never leave an outdoor fire unattended and always extinguish it before leaving and exercise caution when in or near forested areas.

Miller asks quad riders to inspect their machines regularly and to make sure they have proper spark arrestors. They should remove any debris or materials within their exhaust system and also check the engine and exhaust frequently. 

"The other important part would be to always check behind you," he says.

Miller notes ATV-caused fires are rarely intentional, but often go unnoticed because the rider does not look behind.

According to Miller, southeastern Manitoba is greened up to about 80 per cent right now. He suggests this is probably a higher percentage than normal for this time of year. 

"That's an extremely positive thing," he adds. 

Miller says the spring fire season in the southeast is always a concern to him. But he says with the current conditions they are at an advantage, which means the next threat is lightning strikes. Though Miller suggests that fires caused by lightning strikes are not terribly common in our area.