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“What you’re returning to may be tough to see”: Hay River Mayor Jameson hopes for weekend re-entry, Westwick responds

Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson, alongside GNWT colleagues, addressed the status of a potential return to Hay River after a month long evacuation. 

According to Jameson, council is currently reviewing the progress essential services have made as they continue Phase 1 of the town’s re-entry plan. 

“If progress is positive we hope to see our general public return this weekend,” Jameson says. 

As a result of the ongoing re-entry, Wildfire Information Officer Mike Westwick issued a statement regarding what residents can expect when they return home after fires ravaged the community and its surrounding area. 

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“What you’re returning to may be tough to see,” Westwick says. 

According to Westwick, residents are asked to prepare to live alongside the blaze, saying “all of these fires will need to be managed until the snow falls.” 

“You’re returning to a community where you’ll be living with fire in a much more intimate way than we’re usually used to in the boreal forest,” Westwick advises. 

Additionally, Westwick addressed the inherent risk of returning to a community with an active fire, saying hazards will be present in and around the community the entire duration of return. 

“You’re not returning to a risk free community.” 

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“When you do return we remind you to stay alert, there’s alot of hazards that come with wildfires when they get so close.” 

Westwick says hazards such as trees with weakened root systems caused by fire means trees may fall easier than usual. Westwick adds that firefighters will be present in the community as long as fires are active, and residents are asked to stay alert when crews are operating. 

“Please be aware of these hazards and take every step to protect your safety and the safety of everyone around including the crews working really hard to keep these places safe,” Westwick says. 

Hay River Council is scheduled to meet today to discuss the potential of re-entry for members of the general public. 

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