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'Ridiculous': Passersby find fire burning unattended at Yellowknife River

Passersby driving by Yellowknife River discovered a fire burning on a concrete slab unattended on Monday night. They're warning people about fire safety.

Cassandra Thibault says the fire was 'extremely hot' and 'spilling over' just before midnight Monday

Cassandra Thibault says this 'fairly large and extremely hot' fire was burning unattended at the Yellowknife River day use area Monday night. (Submitted by Cassandra Thibault)

When Cassandra Thibault and Amos Williams were out for a drive on Monday night, they weren't expecting to act as impromptu firefighters.

But that's what happened when the two found an unattended fire burning on a slab of concrete at the Yellowknife River day use area.

"It was still fairly large and extremely hot ... Things were just quite literally spilling over," said Thibault, adding that it could be spotted from the road at a distance. 

"With a bit of wind, that could have spread very, very, very quickly." 

Thibault said there was a truck nearby, but nobody in sight. She said they started yelling to see if anyone was in earshot. 

"There was no one," she said. 

Thibault says she could spot the fire from the road at a distance. (Submitted by Cassandra Thibault)

After finding a few buckets hanging off of a sign post, Thibault said they began going back and forth from the river, dousing the fire.

She estimates the fire had been burning for a long time.

"The water was steaming off almost instantly and they were just popping and crackling rather aggressively," she said, adding that pieces of debris flung toward them. "It was a little frightening."

[I'm] commending the individuals for their quick and immediate actions.​​​​- Drew Williams, Spokesperson for Department of Industry, Tourism, Investment

She said it took more than half an hour and about 10 to 12 buckets to completely put it out.

"And there was nobody to be found the entire time," said Thibault, a born-and-raised Yellowknifer. "That close to town, people just leaving this kind of thing unattended is ridiculous."

Thibault says it took about 10 to 12 buckets to douse the unattended fire. (Submitted by Cassandra Thibault)

Thibault said she first called the RCMP, who forwarded her to the Yellowknife fire department, who then asked her to contact the territorial government. 

"At the very least, there needs to be more awareness that there are buckets out there, and there needs to be signs," said Thibault.

She's asking people to practise campfire safety.

Drew Williams, a spokesperson for the N.W.T. Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment said he's "commending the individuals for their quick and immediate actions."

In an email response, Williams said he reminds parks users to extinguish their fires "even when they are using the established fire pits in our recreational-use areas."

In an update Tuesday afternoon, the department said the incident is under investigation by parks enforcement.

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