North

N.W.T. fires at almost triple the average number so far this year

There have already been 65 forest fires in the territory so far this year, 48 of which are still burning. The 20-year average is 24 fires for this time of year.

65 fires so far this season, as compared to 20-year average of 24

A fire burns along the shore of the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in the summer of 2014. The number of forest fires in N.W.T. so far in 2015 is nearly triple the 20-year average. (submitted by Brayden Myers)

There have been almost triple the number of forest fires in N.W.T. so far this season compared to the 20-year average. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources says there have already been 65 forest fires this year, 48 of which are still burning.

Based on the 20-year average, the typical number of forest fires for this time of year sits around 24. 

Mike Gravel, ENR's manager of Forest Management Services, says dry conditions are to blame. 

"[The dryness is] in a little bit of a wider area that includes the Dehcho and a bigger portion of the South Slave. So environmentally we're dealing with those kind of conditions," he told reporters Monday.

Gravel added that the forest fires have burned about 136,000 hectares so far this year. That's just under double the 20-year average, which is 79,000 hectares.

Rain expected to dampen flames

Ten new fires have started in the past week, including one near Aklavik and one on an island in Yellowknife's Kam Lake, caused by an abandoned campfire.

Currently, Gravel says the largest forest fire crews are tackling is one near Fort Simpson. That fire is about 32,000 hectares in size. 

Monday's rain is expected to help dampen the fire activity. A fire ban was lifted in the City of Yellowknife on Monday morning as a result.

Officials are still reminding people to make sure any campfires they light are completely out before leaving.

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