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Devastating fire destroys only grocery store in remote Manitoba reserve

First Nations community declares state of emergency after discovering all food in the store had been lost

A remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba has declared a state of emergency and called in the Red Cross following a devastating fire.

The fire erupted Thursday and destroyed Shamattawa's only grocery store, along with the band office, post office, radio station and local 9-1-1 centre.

RCMP say six kids were involved in setting the fire, five of whom are under 12 and cannot be charged.

The other youth, a 12-year-old boy, was arrested and released on a promise to appear in court.

Sheila North Wilson, grand chief of a group that represents northern Manitoba First Nations, says all the food in the grocery store has been lost.

The Red Cross is now working to bring in food and emergency supplies to the community of 1,500 people using charter and commercial airplanes.

Spokesman Shawn Feely says the Red Cross is being supported by the federal government and expected to have emergency supplies—including infant formula and diapers—delivered by the end of Friday.

The community's chief, Jeffrey Napaokesik, says there were no injuries in the fire, which started in the band office as staff were away at a funeral.

About 1,500 people live in Shamattawa, which is 700 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

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