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“Critical, challenging days ahead” as fire crews continue to battle fire, conditions in Yellowknife region

Still 15 kilometres away northwest from the City of Yellowknife boundaries as of August 18th, NWT fire crews continue their full-court press to try and slow down the fire threatening the capital region with as many available resources as possible.

Wildfire Information Officer Mike Westwick says they’ve had successful suppression operations over the past couple of days, aided by improved visibility, which means they’ve been able to keep aircraft in the air day and night to slow the growth of that fire toward the community. However, Westwick says the next 48 hours will be some of the most difficult when it comes to not only battling the fires, but the conditions.

“We’ve got northwest winds today, and west-northwest winds forecast for Saturday, we are looking at 20-25 kilometres an hour, gusts up to 35-40 kilometres an hour,” he says.

“We would expect that fire to push south and east as a result, and that’s certainly directions we don’t want both the fires north of the Ingraham Trail and the fire to the west of Yellowknife to be moving, so two critical, challenging days ahead.”

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Westwick says in addition to actively fighting to suppress the fires, the GWNT is working shoulder to shoulder with the City of Yellowknife when it comes to protecting community infrastructure in a big way.

“More and more sprinklers and high-volume water protection around the periphery of the city. We’ve got nearly 20 kilometres of hose laid around, and many pumps, and this is all work being done to protect if that fire should encroach upon the community,” Westwick adds.

He adds for those looking to stay behind while their neighbours evacuate, his message is clear.

“Leave town for your safety, and we will be working very hard to protect the things that you care about while you’re gone.” “This fire is a threat to the community, that’s the reality. There is every reason to heed the evacuation order and proceed in an orderly fashion.”

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