'We never had fires like this for many years': Old Crow residents nervous about nearby fires

Fires around Old Crow concern residents

26 fires are burning in the Old Crow district but Yukon Wildland Fire says the community is not at risk

Yukon Wildland Fire Management has put sprinklers and other protective measures in place to protect at risk structures in the Old Crow district. (Yukon Wildland Fire Management)

Forest fires surrounding Old Crow pose no immediate threat to the community but some people are still nervous, says the fire co-ordinator for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.

Residents remember what happened in 1991, when the fires got really close to Old Crow, Harvey Kassi explained. 

"You have to be nervous, due to past experience when we got evacuated," he said.

"We never had fires like this for many years."

26 fires continue to burn in the Old Crow district. (Yukon Wildland Fire Management)

While precipitation and cooler temperatures brought the fire danger rating to low throughout the territory on Friday, the Old Crow district was rated extreme. 

Kassi says this year's fires are the worst they've been since 1991.

"It's burning up people's trap lines, and getting close to historic sites like Rampart House."

Kassi says every time the wind shifts, it brings smoke from a different fire into the community.

This week, the Yukon government set up a "clean air and cooling" centre at the school. 

John Coyne with Health and Social Services says air cleaners and cots have been flown in, "allowing the opportunity for the community to take respite in the event that the situation deteriorates from the smoke conditions," he said. 

The centre also has juice and snacks and a van service to transport people. 

Children, elders and people with pre-existing heath conditions are at particular risk from the smoke, according to Yukon's chief medical officer of health. 

Yukon Wildland Fire Management said crews continue to reinforce structure protection in the Old Crow region. 

With files from Leonard Linklater


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