N.W.T. fishing lodge evacuated due to forest fire

Guests and staff members are being evacuated from Plummer's Lodge on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake because of a threatening forest fire in the area.

Sprinklers surround Plummer's Lodge on East Arm of Great Slave Lake in the N.W.T.

A forest fire has forced guests and some staff members of Plummer's Lodge, on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, to evacuate the property Saturday.

Judy McLinton, with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, says the lodge was warned two days ago to relocate guests and staff. McLinton says the lodge evacuated several people off the site Saturday morning. 

McLinton says sprinklers are on, keeping the property damp, and so far there hasn't been any serious damage to the lodge. 

Last week, another forest fire burned about 50 kilometres away from Plummer's Lodge, destroying Dave and Kristen Olesen's home on McLeod Bay near the Hoarfrost River.

With more than 100 fires burning in the territory, McLinton says fire officials are running out of sprinklers, and they have to look at each fire and see what it threatens. 

"We have to prioritize the fires," she said. 

McLinton says fires will be dealt with first if they threaten:

  • Human life, including the lives of the firefighters
  • Communities
  • Major infrastructure

She says officials may not be able to get to secluded cabins and lodges, like Plummer's, as soon as they'd like so the government is encouraging people to "fire smart" their property. That includes setting up garden hoses around the perimeter and cutting down trees and bushes close to the buildings. 

'Really extreme burning conditions' 

The forecast for much of the Northwest Territories continues to be dry and hot for at least the next seven to 10 days, making some forest fires worse.

A forest fire near the Bluefish Dam recently reignited. McLinton says the fires are burning so deep under ground that it's easy for them to flare up again. 

She says that's just an example of "how extreme our drought is."

In the North Slave Region, a forest fire near Birch Creek continues to threaten Highway 3.

The Department of Transportation initially closed the highway between Fort Providence and Edzo Friday night, but reopened it at 10 a.m. Saturday morning with reduced visibility.

The department has since closed the entire highway because there is "nearly zero visibility." 

The fire causing the smoke in the area is 85,000 hectares in size — or 850 square kilometres — and McLinton says it's going to "be a problem for the next few days."

Kakisa and Reid Lake under control

Meanwhile, firefighters have finished their "direct attack" on the west side of the fire burning near Reid Lake.

Officials are hoping to do a controlled burn out on Sunday, which will help stop the fire from spreading. 

In Kakisa, N.W.T., McLinton says firefighters are making progress on the fire that threatened the community two weeks ago.

McLinton says there is no risk to the community.