Rains slow forest fire season in N.W.T., but more than 1 million hectares burned in 2017
Crews sent to Manitoba to help battle fires as conditions improve in North and South Slave regions
Rain across the N.W.T.'s North and South Slave regions has led to a downturn in forest fire conditions, but more than one million hectares burnt in the territory this year, according to the territory's director of fire operations.
As of Monday, the N.W.T. is sitting at 1.011 million hectares burnt and 238 fires for the 2017 season, according to Richard Olsen. That number is about five times the area burned last year, and approximately double the territory's 20-year-average.
However, Olsen said that recent rain systems have seen the season slow considerably, to the point that 40 to 50 per cent of firefighters in the territory have finished work for the season.
"We still have some areas where we need to monitor how much rain occurred, and the impact that's having on the drought in the North and South Slave," said Olsen, who added that some communities, including Fort Good Hope and Fort Smith, still have extra firefighters on staff.
"Even though we got some real heavy rain in some areas... some other areas didn't get as much."
Crews sent to Manitoba, no plans to actively fight fires in caribou range
As fire conditions slow in the Northwest Territories, N.W.T. firefighters continue to head south to battle wildfires in the provinces. This morning, Olsen said five four-person crews, as well as an agency representative and trainee, have been sent to Manitoba to help fight fires in the province.
Twenty-nine fire personnel remain in British Columbia, Olsen said, including a 21-person crew, which he is expecting back this weekend.
Olsen also responded to concerns from the president of the Fort Resolution Métis Council, who said last week that he was concerned about the effect forest fires are having on the habitat of the territory's caribou herds.
"At this point in time, we don't have any response plan for the fires in the caribou range for values protection," he said. "Anything that we look at undertaking is to protect values, really starting with communities and other infrastructure, moving towards other values for protection after those things are dealt with.
"And from an ecological perspective, [with forest fires] being important to both the rejuvenation and the health of the forest. So we don't necessarily want to interfere with anything from an environmental perspective, but we want to balance that with value protection."
With files from Rignam Wangkhang