Whati residents watch smoke from wildfires

Residents watch a wildfire from Whati, N.W.T. ENR says they're doing controlled burns around the community to contain the fires, which are burning over 176,000 hectares. (Courtesy of Vanessa Nitsiza )

Some people in Gameti, N.W.T. say heavy smoke has been grounding flights for at least five days. 

Jeffrey Corradetti flew to the community from Yellowknife to teach a first aid course. He was only supposed to be there for two days. Due to the fires, he's been stuck for a week. 

"Airplanes are traditionally a two-mile visibility and then they'd be able to land. Helicopters, from my understanding was, is that it's half a kilometre (to land). And we don't even meet that criteria at the moment. So they can't even bring a helicopter in here," he says. 

Corradetti says people in the community told him planes have been grounded for a week in the past. But it's happened in the winter when there's a lot of ice fog. 

He says he can barely see 10 metres in front of him. He says he'd like to be receiving more information about the fire fighting efforts.  

Gameti fire

Earlier this summer, ENR conducted a controlled burn ouside of Gameti, N.W.T. (Jenn Wetrade/Facebook)

"You feel like you're held hostage due to the environment and the weather," he says. "It's costing everyone money, productivity."

Environment and Natural Resources says there are fires covering about 1760 kilometres square burning close to Whati, which is about 160 kilometres from Gameti. Fire crews are working to contain the fire and keep it away from the community. 

Meanwhile, intermittent closures of Highway 3 between Behchoko and Fort Providence continue. The highway remains closed this morning.

Meanwhile, Environment and Natural Resources says it's made good progress keeping a fire, burning northwest of Yellowknife, from moving closer to Highway 3. The blaze is 9 kilometres from the road, 30 kilometres away from the city.

So far, it has burned an area 50 kilometres square, more than double the size it was Friday. 

As of Sunday afternoon, there were 243 fires burning across the territory.