Fire forces evacuation of Wrigley, N.W.T.

The community of Wrigley, N.W.T., is being evacuated as a fire is burning close by.

Blaze is close to the highway and the Enbridge pipeline

This photo, taken July 2, shows the blaze near Wrigley. Fire officials have been fighting the blaze for over a week now. (NWT Department of Environment and Natural Resouces)

The community of Wrigley, N.W.T., is being evacuated as a fire is burning close by.

As of 4:15 p.m. on Monday, the fire was burning about 25 kilometres away from the community's centre. The fire is also burning close to the highway and to the Enbridge pipeline.

"It’s threatening the Enbridge camp, which is the pump station and that’s located just outside of town, about 10 kilometres, as well as the highway itself, so they want members out of the community today so that nobody gets trapped in the community," said Sharon Pellissey, who is the Pehdzeh Ki  First Nation's assistant band manager.

Pellissey said residents are gassing up their vehicles and leaving for nearby Fort Simpson, N.W.T., as soon as possible. She is asking people to check in at the recreation centre in Fort Simpson when they arrive.

She said skies above the town are clear, but they can see smoke from the fire towards the highway.

"We see like a big cloud of smoke, just like a mushroom, it’s getting bigger."

Firefighters have been battling the same blaze over the past week. Pellissey said it jumped the mountains and moved to the east side of the valley near the community.

Mike Drake, the regional superintendent for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, said they made the call to evacuate because shifting winds could cause a lot of smoke in the community.

It is a precautionary evacuation, and about 20 people will stay in town.

Pellissey said those staying in town, including herself, have a backup plan to leave the community by boat if needed.

Enbridge pipeline could be shut down

Pellissey said Enbridge has its own emergency protocols, but she said it's likely the company will have to shut down the pipeline.

About 120 people live in Wrigley, which is located about 750 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife.