Fire near Snare system out of control, could threaten assets

Snare hydro system
An aerial view of an element of the Snare hydro system.
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A wildfire that is burning out of control near the Snare hydro system has grown too big to be actioned by crews, according to the territory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

On Tuesday, the fire was reported to be 10 kilometers from the Snare dam roughly 65 kilometres north of Behchoko.

Since that time, the blaze has grown considerably in size and now covers over five square kilometers – or 500 hectares.

Read: Six fires burning within 50 km of Yellowknife, ENR says

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Fire operations manager Richard Olsen says the fire isn’t moving closer to the dam itself but is heading towards power lines along the Snare River.

At this time, Olsen says crews aren’t fighting the fire because of higher priority fires elsewhere and because of the sheer size of it.

“We’re not looking at this time at any direct action but instead at alternatives for value protection,” he said.

“First of all we’ve got a lot of high-priority fires close to values around Yellowknife that our resources are allocated to at this point in time.

“This fire is also at a size right now where it would take extensive resources to really work on. Once you get beyond even 100 hectares in size you’re looking at a lot of work.”

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The Snare hydro system provides power to Yellowknife, Behchoko and Dettah.

Olsen says sprinklers and other equipment have been set up in the area but his department isn’t recommending anyone leave the site just yet.

While no assets have been damaged, that could change as the fire continues to burn out of control.

“[No assets] have been burned [so far]. There is potential with a wild burning fire that things could be affected but we’re not anticipating anything immediately.

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“It’s not unusual to see fires move anywhere from two to 10 kilometers within a 24-hour period and we do expect continued growth on this fire with southeast winds.”

Meanwhile, Olsen says a third of the territory’s fire crews are positioned in the North Slave region, where a rash of fires have broken out recently.

In the past couple days, six fires have been reported within a 50-kilometer radius of Yellowknife. Of those six, Olsen says four are under control, one is being assessed and one is being actioned.

“For the fires around Yellowknife that we’re initial attacking, things are going well. There’s no risk to any communities or cabins at this time,” he said.

A total of 91 wildfires have been reported in the NWT this season burning almost 30,000 hectares of land.

While there is no risk to any communities or infrastructure in the North Slave region at this time, fire danger remains extreme with dry and windy conditions in the short-term forecast.

You can find the latest fire information here.

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