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Despite more lightning this year, rain keeping fire season at bay

NWT fire crews are expected to be fully staffed by the end of the week after firefighters currently stationed in Alberta make the trip home.

The Northwest Territories has experienced a slow start to the wildfire season so far, with only 10 fires burning an estimated 130 hectares of land since May 1.

Read: NWT fire crews ‘ready to deploy’ despite slow start to season

To put that into context, the 20-year-average would see 22 fires by this point and by this time last year, 58 had been documented.

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“We continue to have a below-average season,” said Mike Gravel, territorial duty officer with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

Only five new fires have been documented in the past week – all of which were reported in the territory’s Dehcho region.

Crews are actioning two of those fires while another one has already been declared out.

ENR officials say the risk of fire is low to moderate across the Northwest Territories except for the Dehcho where it remains high.

Despite precipitation and cooler temperatures this week, forecasters are still calling for warmer and drier conditions throughout much of the NWT into July.

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More lightning this year, but also more rain

Even though four fires have been started by lightning in the past 48 hours, even more would have been reported if the storms weren’t accompanied by rain.

Gravel says there have been more lightning storms in the territory this year, but the fact that they’ve been wetter storms have firefighters feeling a sense of relief.

“That’s really the difference between this season and last season,” he said. “Last season we had a lot of lightning storms but they were dry.

“This year we have even more lightning than last year but a lot of that lightning is wet. We’re happy to have that rain, that’s for sure.”

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