N.W.T. fire report: 35 fires burning across the territory

Apart from a controlled burn along Hwy 3, ENR says there's no risk to communities or roads as N.W.T. heads into another weekend, but campers and those out on the land are being warned to be careful with fire.

2 new fires caused by people in past 48 hours; 20 fires burning in Dehcho region

Smoke from a forest fire is visible Monday May 25 from N.W.T. Highway 3 outside Behchoko. (submitted by Elora Braden)

There are 35 wildfires burning across the N.W.T. as fire crews prepare for a controlled burn along Highway 3, the only route from Yellowknife to the rest of Canada, but no other communities or roads are currently at risk. 

Richard Olsen, the N.W.T.'s manager of fire operations, said the fire burning about 50 kilometres south of Behchoko could have an impact on Yellowknife and transportation routes south if it's not contained.

"[It] has the potential to grow for a fair amount of time this summer," he told the CBC's Loren McGinnis, host of The Trailbreaker.

Crews are now setting control lines using bulldozers. Next, they'll go in with helicopters to drip fuel on the ground, light it, and let it burn to the control line.

The fire will still burn, Olsen said, "but it'll burn into areas of old burn and eventually burn itself out."

20 fires in Dehcho

The largest fire activity is currently in the territory's Dehcho region, where 20 fires are now burning and five have already been extinguished. Olsen says his department is developing response plans for five fires that could potentially have an impact on assets.

Asked whether the N.W.T. has the resources to tackle another intense fire season, Olsen said assets are in place throughout the territory, and there's also the option of calling in help from other parts of the country.

And even if wildfires in B.C. and Alberta are using local resources, there's the option of calling in help from the U.S.

Warning to campers

ENR reported two new fires yesterday caused by people: one a 30-hectare fire 75 kilometres from Jean Marie River sparked by an abandoned campfire, and one near Fort Providence caused by someone burning grass.

Olsen stressed the need for people to be careful with fire if they're out camping this weekend.

"Choose your location wisely," he said. "Make sure it's in a pit and make sure the fire's out before you leave."

Fire bans are in effect in Hay River and Yellowknife, as well as at Fred Henne Territorial Park and Yellowknife River Territorial Park.

The forecast suggests a return to more seasonal conditions later this week, Olsen said, "and with that we might get a little bit of rain.

"But conditions are dry and people should take care with whatever kind of fire they light."


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