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Two First Nations communities in northeastern Manitoba are evacuating residents who may be vulnerable to wildfire smoke.

The Canadian Red Cross, which has an agreement with the federal government to provide disaster assistance to Manitoba First Nations, is transporting up to 200 residents from Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids First Nations to Winnipeg.

It says the residents include the elderly, babies, and those with chronic respiratory problems, as well as their escorts.

On Saturday, the Manitoba government said smoke and ash was blowing into the province from fires in northwest Ontario, and Environment Canada issued special air quality statements for much of eastern Manitoba that remained in effect over the weekend.

Red Cross spokeswoman Michelle Palansky says residents of Pauingassi are being by float plane to Little Grand Rapids, which has a short airstrip that can accommodate small aircraft.

Close to 2,000 residents of the fly-in communities were out of their homes for more than a month last year when a fire burned 320 square kilometres of forest in the area.

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