North

Fire near Snare hydro system out of control, no longer being fought

A wildfire 10 kilometres south of the Snare hydro system, 140 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife, is now 50 times larger than when it was reported on Tuesday - but the N.W.T. government is not going to fight it.

N.W.T. crews focusing on protecting transmission lines and towers

The Snare Hydro System about 140km northwest of Yellowknife provides power to Yellowknife, Behchoko and Dettah. It includes four separate hydro plants as well as 150 kilometres of transmission lines. (Northwest Territories Power Corporation)

A wildfire 10 kilometres south of the Snare hydro system is now 50 times larger than when it was reported on Tuesday and the N.W.T. government is not going to fight it.

The fire, which initially covered 10 hectares, is now covering 503 hectares of forest about 65 kilometres north of Behchoko and has been classified "out of control."

"We've got a lot of high priority fires close to values around Yellowknife that our resources are allocated to at this point in time," said the N.W.T.'s manager of fire operations, Rick Olsen.

"This fire is at a size right now where it would take extensive resources to really work on it."

Instead, crews are focusing on protecting values at risk in the area such as transmission lines and towers.

"We're setting up sprinklers, putting up line, if we have to do ignition operations, putting in equipment, any kind of prep work in preparation for those types of things," said Olsen.  

According to Olsen, no transmission lines have been damaged yet, but he said that could change.

"[The fire] is growing closer to the Snare River, and some of the power lines, but not the dam site itself."

The Snare hydro system provides power to Yellowknife, Behchoko and Dettah. It includes four separate hydro plants as well as 150 kilometres of transmission lines.

In an email to CBC, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation said it will continue to support the efforts of N.W.T. fire crews, and that it "takes the safety of its staff and the public very seriously and has emergency plans for all its facilities in place."

Olsen said fire crews have a good handle on most of the fires that sprang up around Yellowknife this week — the majority of which are under control.

There is an "out of control" 80 hectare fire located about 47 kilometres north of Yellowknife that is currently being fought, but Olsen said things are going well.

Fire crews are also working on a 10 hectare fire about 16 kilometres from Lutselk'e, which has remained relatively stable in size since Wednesday. 

"It is extremely dry, but there's no risk to any communities or cabins at this time," said Olsen.