N.W.T. fires still burning despite wet, cool weather

An N.W.T. duty officer says this week's cool, wet weather did little to help the forest fire situation. Mike Gravel says the territory needs deep, heavy rain to make any kind of difference.

'It's pretty much like that rain never happened,' says fire management officer

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

Cool, wet weather in the Northwest Territories this week did little to help the fire situation, say N.W.T. officials.

The territory saw less than 5 millimetres of rain in the last week.

"Really all that shower did is help us catch up with the fires that we're working on," said Mike Gravel, a territorial duty officer in forest fire management with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 

"But one or two days of this warm, windy weather, and it's pretty much like that rain never even happened in our business."

Gravel said the territory needs deep, heavy rain to make a difference.

A fire in the South Slave is not affecting highways or communities, but Gravel says there are a number of cabins in the area. Crews have started fire guards near that blaze, in case they need to do controlled burns in the future.

Crews are also working on a fire between Kakisa and Jean Marie River, which Gravel hopes will be under control by this weekend.

"It's proactive to deal with them while they're small at this time of year," he says.

"Because it's very early in June and we're having carryover from last summer's extreme drought conditions, it's necessary for us to be aggressive in our management techniques."

Highway 3 should remain open

There could be good news for people wanting to travel along Highway 3 between Behchoko and Fort Providence this summer. 

Gravel says a controlled burn south of Behchoko last week has taken away the fuel between a fire and the highway, which will hopefully keep the road open throughout the summer.

He says he doesn't expect any upcoming road closures with the current fire situation.

But with the dry conditions and more lightning in the forecast, Gravel is urging people to be fire smart this weekend.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.