Rain a welcome reprieve for N.W.T. wildfire firefighters

Firefighting crews from Ontario will give a break to N.W.T. firefighters as they make headway on the two largest fires in the North Slave region.

Crews containing 2 major fires near Yellowknife and Behchoko, with help from Ontario

Adrian Lizotte, wildlife and environment manager for the N.W.T.'s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, says firefighters are getting the region's two largest fires under control. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

Rain moved into the Yellowknife area Friday, a boon for firefighters working wildfires in the region.

Fires at Awry Lake and Marion Lake — now regarded by wildfire managers as the Awry Lake complex — have been slowed by the rain and cooler temperatures.

"The rain definitely helps out," said Adrian Lizotte, the N.W.T. Environment Department's wildlife and environment manager for the North Slave region.  

"Any rain is very helpful [and] it's looking like it's a downward trend here for the next few days."

The Awry Lake fire — 3,555 hectares and 41 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife — is not considered a threat to the city. The fire at Marion Lake, about 12 kilometres north of Behchoko, is 163 hectares and mostly contained. 

Crews are doing an awesome job out there, working really hard.- Adrian Lizotte, N.W.T. wildlife and environment manager

Lizotte said 20 firefighters from Ontario made it to camp near the Awry Lake fire Thursday night.

"They'll be shuffled up to the fire line today and they'll continue to mop up [a] section on the east flank," Lizotte said. 

"They'll put out all hotspots and secure that area and once we have that objective completed, then we'll move over to the west flank … and then we'll do a full suppression."

Marion Lake fire mostly contained

Lizotte said fire crews have 70 per cent of the Marion Lake fire contained.

"Firefighting efforts are really good over there," he said. "Crews are doing an awesome job out there, working really hard, and you know we're going to look at fully suppressing that [fire]"

Lizotte said that over the past week there were 30 new fire starts in the North Slave region, which further strains resources over a short period of time.

Firefighters and managers essentially work around the clock, Lizotte said, and weekends don't mean much during the fire season.

The firefighting crews from Ontario will give a break to N.W.T. crews who have been working the fires without relief.

"All these people … they give up their personal life and are away from their families so that's a tough time for them," Lizotte said.

"But everyone's dedicated their job. You know everyone has a passion for this kind of work."

With files from Loren McGinnis


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