Yukon rescinds evacuation alert, softens travel advisory, as rain calms fires across territory

The Yukon government on Tuesday rescinded an evacuation alert issued earlier for several communities in the central territory, as rains have helped calm wildfires in the area.

Widespread rain is minimizing fire growth and decreasing risk to communities, officials say

A firefighter at the scene of the Crystal Lake Fire earlier this week near Stewart Crossing, Yukon. The Yukon government rescinded an evacuation alert on Tuesday for several communities, including Moose Creek Lodge, Mayo, Elsa, Keno, and the Victoria Gold Mine site. Stewart Crossing remains under an evacuation alert. (Anna Desmarais/CBC)

Residents living under an evacuation alert in several Yukon communities for the past week can breathe a little easier.

The Yukon government on Tuesday rescinded the alert it had issued for communities in the Silver Trail area, including Moose Creek Lodge, Mayo, Elsa, Keno, and the Victoria Gold Mine site.

"The level of risk to this area has decreased and is now not deemed to present a risk to persons or property within the defined area," stated a government news release Tuesday afternoon.

It said cooler weather and increased rain had reduced fires and limited the number of new fires.

However, an evacuation alert for a five-kilometre radius around Stewart Crossing remains in place.

Earlier in the day, Yukon Wildland Fire Management reported that widespread rain across the territory was "minimizing fire growth."

"Crews across the territory are working on getting fires out and under control during the downturn in weather," it stated.

Environment Canada is forecasting a 60 per cent chance of rain Wednesday and 30 per cent chance on Thursday for the Mayo region.

Wildland Fire Management said Tuesday there had been eight new fires in the last 24 hours and that there were 181 fires burning across the territory.

Lifting the evacuation alert means residents in the affected communities no longer have to be ready to leave within two hours notice. However, officials said property owners in the region should remain vigilant.

Lightning, combined with a streak of unusually hot weather in the Yukon last week, led to more than 160 fires burning in various areas in the territory, which is more than the territory has experienced over entire past wildfire seasons.

The Yukon government issued the evacuation alert on July 5. Fire crews from B.C. have come to the territory to help deal with the fires.

Updated travel advisory

The rescinding of the evacuation alert came a little over an hour after the government issued an updated travel advisory, trying to reassure visitors that it's safe to travel to the territory despite the fires across the territory.

"Visitors are welcome in the Yukon and leisure travel is permitted," stated the advisory.

The government had issued a travel advisory four days earlier, on July 8, in which Yukon residents and visitors were asked to "seriously consider their travel plans."

It said wildfires and flooding had triggered evacuation alerts in several communities and led to road closures and washouts. 

Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn said on CBC's Midday Cafe that day that if people's travel wasn't necessary, they shouldn't travel.

The North Klondike Highway between from Stewart Crossing to Pelly Crossing was closed on Friday due to "unpredictable, dangerous fire behaviour," but reopened on Monday.


Michel Proulx

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Michel Proulx is a digital journalist with CBC News in Whitehorse. He joined CBC North in 2020. He has also worked in Victoria and Ottawa.