Heavy smoke proves helpful to Yukon firefighters

Smoke billowing from a growing wildfire in central Yukon has proven helpful to firefighters battling the blaze — by offering shade.

Dozens of firefighters still battling the North Crooked Creek fire near Stewart Crossing

Claus Vogel snapped this picture while driving near the fire on Thursday night. Fire officials say heavy smoke from the North Crooked Creek fire has resulted in 'smoke shading,' which can help cool an area. (Submitted by Claus Vogel)

Smoke billowing from a growing wildfire in central Yukon has proven helpful to firefighters battling the blaze — by offering shade.

"When there is a lot of smoke, it can create a phenomenon known as 'smoke shading,' and it's kind of like a cloud covering over an area that can actually cool that area off and limit the effective fire damage," said Yukon fire information officer Mike Fancie.

Dozens of firefighters were still working on the North Crooked Creek fire near Stewart Crossing on Friday, which was estimated to be 248 square kilometres in size.

Three helicopters were also involved in the effort on Thursday, and heavy equipment was being used to build a barrier between the fire and the North Klondike highway.

Sarah Dawn McDiarmid took this photo as she went to check on her family's cabin near Ethel Lake in Yukon. Some residents and cabin owners were still under an evacuation alert on Friday. (Submitted by Sarah Dawn McDiarmid)

Smoke has been drifting through many nearby communities this week, including Mayo and Dawson City.

More gusting winds expected

"It's important to underscore that there is still a very real fire danger," said Fancie on Friday morning. He said the forecast was calling for unseasonably warm weather again, and gusting winds by the afternoon.

"We're definitely preparing ourselves."

An evacuation alert is still in effect for residents or cabin owners in the nearby Ethel Lake area. No cabins or buildings have been lost to the fire, Fancie said.

Another photo from Sarah Dawn McDiarmid, taken in the Ethel Lake area. (Submitted by Sarah Dawn McDiarmid)

Elsewhere in the territory, another fire near the Snag campground forced the closure of the Alaska Highway between Snag Junction and Beaver Creek for several hours on Thursday, before re-opening late in the evening.

Fancie said motorists can again travel through the area, but should use caution and monitor 511Yukon for any updates on road closures. 

"It is quite late in the season. That being said, it is still fire season." 


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