Fire crews pulled from wildfire near Yellowknife that's too dangerous to fight

The department of Environment and Natural Resources says fires were caused by lightning.

The N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources says no cabins or communities threatened

Two out of control wildfires are burning near Yellowknife Thursday afternoon. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

A fire near Yellowknife is growing and exhibiting extreme behaviour. It was started Thursday by lighting and is burning roughly 45 kilometres from the city, near Awry Lake. 

It's now grown to 250 hectares in size. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) says that for now it's pulled fire crews and tankers off the fire because conditions are too dangerous, and is establishing an incident management team to focus on next steps for the fire.

Wildfire managers are also reporting a fire near Watta Lake, approximately 80 kilometres east of Detah. Air tankers and three fire crews are en route to that fire, which is considered out of control and 150 hectares in size.

There are currently 10 fires burning in the North Slave region. ENR says no cabins or communities are at risk at this time.

Billowing smoke was visible from Yellowknife Thursday as two out-of-control wildfires burned outside the city.

Crews and air tankers had been attacking the Awry Lake fire, then reported to be about 140 hectares in size.

A second out-of-control fire was burning about 35 kilometres outside Yellowknife Thursday afternoon. That fire was caused by lightning and is about 1,000 square metres, said Meagan Wohlberg, an ENR spokesperson. Air tankers attacked the second fire and crews were still working on it, according to the most recent update on the department's website.

Both fires were reported Thursday, said Wohlberg.

"We've been having a very busy day and a half here. We had five new fires detected yesterday in the North Slave region, four of them close to Yellowknife," said Wohlberg.

She said those fires were attacked last night with air tankers and ground crews and are "currently being held."

"We still have crews working on some of those, but we are also having to action these two new fires today," she said. 

"All of the resources that are required to action these fires are being dedicated to doing so."

Wildfire smoke could be seen billowing in the distance from the CBC building in Yellowknife Thursday afternoon. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Fires caused by lightning

Wohlberg said all of the fires detected in the North Slave region in the last couple days were caused by lightning.

Fire danger levels are high or extreme in many N.W.T. communities, she said.

The department is reminding people in the N.W.T. "to exercise extreme caution with any campfires and to ensure that all fires are extinguished before leaving an area to ensure that we don't have to send our crews to respond to any person-caused fires during this time," said Wohlberg.


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