State of emergency continues as fire near Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., grows to over 8,000 hectares

A wildfire burning near Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., has increased in size to over 8,000 hectares and is moving closer to the community, though an evacuation order has not yet been issued.

Fire has grown to over 8,000 hectares in size, expected to double in size before end of day Monday

A fire map from Friday shows several fires burning in the N.W.T.'s Sahtu region, including one that is now 25 kilometres from Fort Good Hope. (NWT Fire Live Map/ENR/GNWT)

A wildfire burning near Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., has increased in size to over 8,000 hectares and is moving closer to the community, though an evacuation order has not yet been issued.

The fire, burning east of Fort Good Hope, has moved within 25 kilometres of the community, according to Frank Lepine, the director of forest management for the territory's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It's grown to over 8,000 hectares in size, doubling in size on Sunday.

In a media briefing, Lepine said that by the end of the day Monday, it's expected to have doubled in size again.

Emergency plans are in place for an evacuation should the fire come closer to the community, according to Amy Kennedy, the manager of policy and planning for the territory's Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. The communities of Inuvik and Norman Wells are prepared to take people in by air should such a situation arise.

According to Kennedy, children and elders would be evacuated first, followed by other residents.

Fort Good Hope has a population of 516 people, according to the 2016 Census.

Crews working on winter road to create fire break

The fire began July 3 after a lightning strike, prompting a state of emergency to be issued for Fort Good Hope Saturday. It's one of several currently burning in the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories. Smoke from the fire is reaching as far as Norman Wells and Inuvik.

Smoke has settled around Fort Good Hope, as an 8,000 hectare fire moves closer to the community. (submitted by Norman Pierrot)

Lepine said Monday that the fire won't be "actioned" — or fought directly with an attempt to extinguish the blaze — due to concerns about safety, as well as tieing up the territory's firefighting resources for the entire summer. 

Instead, fire crews in the region are currently working to conduct a burn out operation on Fort Good Hope's winter road, approximately 10 kilometres east of the community, in order to slow the progress of the blaze. Fifty-five firefighters and three helicopters, as well as community residents, are currently working on the fire.

In the community, resources have been focused on firesmarting, with residents pruning dead wood and other potential fuel sources, and setting up sprinklers on and near property. A firesmarting workshop has been scheduled for Tuesday in Fort Good Hope.

with files from Jackie Mckay