Wildfire danger 'extreme' around Whitehorse, as long weekend begins

Many areas of the territory are considered to be at moderate to high risk of forest fire on Friday, with Whitehorse at greatest risk. Officials are urging campers to be careful.

Campgrounds will be busy this weekend, and fire officials are urging caution

Fire officials say the risk of wildfire on Friday is highest around Whitehorse, but other areas - Braeburn, Carmacks, Faro, and Ross River - are also at high risk. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Wildland fire officials in Yukon are urging people to be careful this weekend, as many areas of the territory are at high risk of forest fire, and Whitehorse is at "extreme" risk.  

For many Yukoners, this holiday weekend means the first camping trip of the season. Registration at territorial parks is free for Yukon residents until the end of May.

As of Friday morning, the fire danger rating is considered "high" around Braeburn, Carmacks, Faro and Ross River. It is rated "moderate" around Haines Junction, Burwash, Mayo, Stewart Crossing, Teslin, Carcoss, and Watson Lake.

Whitehorse is the only area considered to be at extreme risk.

The risk is lowest around Dawson, Beaver Creek and Old Crow.

'It only takes one bad fire'

Fire information officer George Maratos says it's hard to say what this fire season as a whole will be like. So far, there have been five small human-caused fires.

'It only takes one bad fire to make a bad fire season,' said fire information officer George Maratos. (CBC)

"It's hard to predict but it looks like weather-wise, it's going to be a fairly average season," he said.

But he also admitted that things can change quickly.

"Fort McMurray had one bad, big fire," he said. "It only takes one bad fire to make a bad fire season."

Maratos says Yukoners should always be careful when burning. He advises people to keep campfires small, and within a designated fire pit or ring of rocks. He also advises against starting fires when it's windy. 

He also stresses the importance of fully dousing a campfire before leaving it.

"When you hear of these human-caused starts, 99 per cent of the time they're not intentionally set — it's just a case of not properly extinguishing the fire," he said.


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