Yukon heat wave keeping wildland firefighters busy

Hot weather in Yukon in recent days has sparked some new wildfires, and fire officials are urging people to be cautious in the coming days.

69 wildfires were burning on Monday afternoon, but none threatened communities or infrastructure

A wildfire burning in Yukon in July. Fire officials said there were 69 wildfires burning in the territory on Monday. (Yukon Protective Services/Twitter)

Hot weather in Yukon in recent days has sparked some new wildfires, and fire officials are urging people to be cautious in the coming days.

"We're definitely being kept busy by this weather, that's for sure," said Julia Duchesne, with Yukon Wildland Fire Management, on Monday afternoon.

"We've had quite a few new starts over the weekend, and that sort of added to ... quite a big number of existing fires."

There were 69 fires burning in the territory on Monday afternoon, Duchesne said, but none were threatening any communities or infrastructure.

Some fires that started over the weekend were near communities, but Duchesne said fire crews were able to quickly put those ones out. That included a fire that started on Friday, just five kilometres from Old Crow.

Duchesne said windy conditions on the weekend made that fire a concern.

"So that, combined with the hot, dry conditions, made us want to put that fire out as soon as possible," she said.

"Big kudos to our northern crews there for acting fast and getting that fire put out quickly."

Duchesne said there are other fires that may be making for smoky conditions in some communities or along highways, including a fire burning in the Marsh Lake area south of Whitehorse.

"That one's putting out a fair amount of smoke that may be visible from south of Whitehorse. And that's probably causing some of the haze in Whitehorse today," she said of the Mitchie Lake fire.

"Thankfully, it's growing to the north, so that's away from the highway. It's away from some of the cabins in the Mitchie Lake area, so there's nothing threatened by that fire at the moment."

The fire danger rating in many parts of the territory was high to extreme on Monday. Duchesne said rain in the forecast may help control some existing fires, but she urges Yukoners to still be cautious.

"We've got a lot of fuel on the ground. It's currently hot, dry and ready to burn. So we're asking people to be really careful with any burning that they're doing in the next couple of days," she said.

With files from Dave White


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