1st N.W.T. wildfire of 2016 breaks out 25 km northeast of Yellowknife
Fire reportedly near portage between Prosperous and Madeline lakes
The 2016 wildfire season officially got underway in the Northwest Territories on Saturday when a fire broke out about 25 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife.
The fire was close to a portage between Prosperous Lake and Madeline Lake, said Per Lunder, who owns one of around 10 cabins on a road leading to Madeline Lake.
"They're pumping water out of Madeline Lake to fight the fire," said Lunder, sitting atop an ATV at the end of the road.
Access to the road was blocked off by an RCMP officer starting around mid-afternoon. Two other cabin owners milled about there. Lunder rode out on his ATV to speak to one of them.
Several planes, some carrying fire retardant, could be seeing flying over billows of light grey smoke in the northeast corner of Madeline Lake.
The RCMP officer said water bombers were on their way.
Later, planes dropped thick, red loads of fire retardant onto the site.
Several drivers along the Ingraham Trail — the highway leading to the lakes — stopped their cars along the trail.
One woman, Hillary Tapper, even planted herself in the somewhat swampy shore of Madeline Lake with a long lens camera on a stand to take photos of the fire and planes.
Chucker Dewar, the N.W.T.'s fire marshal, stopped by the roadblock site dressed in weekend civilian garb at around 5:45 p.m. but declined to say anything, saying he was off-duty.
The N.W.T. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' 2016 fire season website, nwtfire.com, had not reported any wildfires in the territory before Saturday, nor was there any mention of the Madeline Lake fire on the site as of late Sunday morning.
The department's second media briefing about the fire season will take place Monday afternoon.
The N.W.T. Department of Transportation reported the fire at around 5:30 p.m Saturday.