70 per cent of N.W.T. at ‘extreme risk’ for forest fires
Twenty five new wildfires were detected in the Northwest Territories in the past 24 hours and all but one were caused by lightning.
David Purchase with the forest management division in Fort Smith says the high number is not surprising.
“When we have lightning storms that pass through and conditions are dry out there, we do pick up forest fires one, two, three days after a lightning storm goes through,” he says.
One fire caused by a person near Fort Smith was quickly dealt with.
With higher than normal temperatures in most of the territory and dry conditions, Purchase says the risk of fires is "extreme" in about 70 per cent of the N.W.T.
The department anticipates even more fires over the next few days, with forecasts of windy conditions and more lightning.
Purchase says the smoky haze in the capital is likely coming from the fire at Pine Lake on the Alberta side of Wood Buffalo National Park.
Fortunately, he says, the smoke is bypassing Fort Smith.
37 fires now active
So far, there have been 53 wildfires in the N.W.T. this summer; 37 are still active.
Firefighting crews have one fire under control near the Bluefish hydro dam and along the Taltson River.
Crews are also active on three fires in the Dehcho region and one in the South Slave.
Of the new fires reported, 14 were in the North Slave region, five in the South Slave, two in the Sahtu and four in the Dehcho.
Fire ban in N.W.T. Parks
Northwest Territories Parks issued a fire ban in its parks in the North Slave, South Slave and Dehcho regions yesterday evening. That means only camp stoves and BBQ fires are allowed, so long as the BBQ has a cover.
The City of Yellowknife has also temporarily banned backyard fires because of the dry conditions.
The ban includes all approved fire pits within city limits.
The department is urging anyone who does not need a fire for cooking or warmth not to start one.
It also wants anyone who sees a fire to report it by calling 1-877-NWT-FIRE.