The number of wildfires burning in the territory is expected to rise significantly this week as hot and dry conditions cover much of the NWT.
That’s according to Richard Olsen, the territory’s manager of fire operations with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Temperatures are expected to hover around 30˚C in parts of the NWT over the next seven days. Little, if any, precipitation is being forecast for Yellowknife and Hay River at the time of writing.
“We are pretty much over any of the cool type of weather,” Olsen told reporters during a wildfire briefing Tuesday afternoon. “We’re expecting ourselves to move into some real significant hot, dry conditions towards the weekend.
“We are expecting that the conditions exist again for another series of fire occurrences.
“We’re going to be looking at bringing on some extra air tankers and likely some extra fire crews … with the intent of finding fires when they’re small and being able to determine a response as quickly as possible.”
See: What Does Firesmarting Actually Look Like?
88 fires have been reported in the territory as of Wednesday morning – 65 of which are still burning. Olsen says that’s roughly double the 20-year average of 42 for this time of year.
Altogether, those fires have burnt more than 150,000 hectares of land. A typical year would see roughly 70,000 hectares affected by this time.
Where are fires burning?
The Deh Cho region has seen the most wildfire activity so far with 34 fires reported to date. That compares with 28 in the South Slave, 11 in the North Slave, 10 in the Sahtu and five in the Inuvik region at the time of writing.
What’s causing the fires?
Lightning is responsible for a vast majority of the wildfires that have been reported so far. On Tuesday afternoon, Olsen told reporters lightning was to blame for 53 of 75 fires reported at the time. An additional 10 were holdover fires, eight were person-caused and two were coal seam fires.
To report a fire or smoke, call 1-877-NWT-FIRE. You can also find the latest wildfire situation reports here.