North

Family's old cabin destroyed by forest fire near Fort Smith, N.W.T.

A forest fire north of Fort Smith, N.W.T., has destroyed at least one family's old cabin, and the owner is not happy he never had a chance to try and save it.

N.W.T. crews fighting 2 forest fires near South Slave town

A forest fire north of Fort Smith, N.W.T., has destroyed at least one family's old cabin, and the owner is not happy he never had a chance to try and save it. 

The first Henry Beaver knew of the risk to his cabin he says, was when N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources called to tell him it had burned down.

"I didn't even know there was a fire out there," said Beaver.

He says ENR staff told him they couldn't find his phone number.

Beaver says if he had known about the fire, he would at least have tried to save some of the belongings he stored in the cabin, such as blankets and pots and pans.  

He says the building is about 20 years old and he and his wife raised their children there until they went to high school.

"That's where we call home," he said. "That's where they were raised."

He and his wife had been planning on retiring to the cabin in the next year or so.

Earlier today Richard Olsen, N.W.T.'s manager of fire operations, said two cabins north of Fort Smith were "affected" by a fire earlier this week.

"There was some large fire growth that affected the cabins and we're really just investigating now to determine the full causes," Olsen said.

He said the fire is about 80 kilometres north of Fort Smith and crews are working to keep it away from structures in the area.

Judy McLinton, a spokesperson for ENR, told CBC in an email that the two cabins "had not been used for many years and were in disrepair.

"One had fallen over and the other had started to have the roof collapse. Both cabins were burned in the fire. The owner has been advised and is aware of the situation."

Crews from ENR and Wood Buffalo National Park are also fighting a fire just west of Fort Smith on Salt Mountain near Highway 5, as well as a small fire south of Fort Simpson, which Olsen said he expects will be put out in the next day or so.

He says right now conditions are manageable, given that many parts of the territory saw rain and cooler temperatures this week. But Olsen said people still need to be fire smart.

"Even though we've had a bit of a downturn, conditions in the forests are still dry, especially around the Yellowknife, South Slave and Dehcho areas," he said.

"People should really be careful when they're making fires to cook or keep warm."

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