North

N.W.T.'s 2017 fire season should be 'relatively quiet' after June, says researcher

The N.W.T. is looking at a cooler, milder fire season after a late start to spring this year, according to a researcher with Natural Resources Canada.

Natural Resources Canada scientist says late spring could portend season that won't be 'terribly exceptional'

A 2016 photo of a fire near the community of Norman Wells. A researcher with Natural Resources Canada says this year's fire season could be a mild one, following a late start to spring. (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)

The N.W.T. is looking at a cooler, milder fire season after a late start to spring this year.

Kerry Anderson, a fire research scientist with Natural Resources Canada, says this won't be a "terribly exceptional" summer for the territory.

The only caveat is June.

The territory is looking at temperatures two or three degrees above average for the month, and Anderson expects some fire activity will pick up at that time.

"This may carry over a bit into July for the Yellowknife, Fort Smith area[s] but afterwards it will likely subside," he said. "After we get over this hump we might actually coast into a relatively quiet fire season."

Three years ago, the N.W.T. experienced one of its worst fire seasons on record. In 2014, 385 fires burned in the territory — 57 per cent more than average — and burned 3.4 million hectares of land.

"We're not seeing anything like that shaping up for this summer," Anderson said.

When asked about conditions near Fort McMurray, Alta., the site of a massive wildfire last year that engulfed much of the community, Anderson said he expects there won't be any holdover fires from last season, as the ground is too wet.

Natural Resources Canada's forest fire severity predictions for June of 2017. Much of the N.W.T. is covered in green, or 'moderate' risk. (Natural Resources Canada)
Natural Resources Canada's forest fire severity predictions for July of 2017. (Natural Resources Canada)

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