Firefighters head home as wet weather eases wildfire threat

A briefing for fire crews tackling a wildfire south of Hay River in July 2015
A briefing for fire crews tackling a wildfire south of Hay River on July 9, 2015. NWT fire photo
- Advertisement -

The Northwest Territories is sending more than 100 firefighters home as the threat from wildfires recedes following recent wet weather.

More than 200 fires have now been recorded in the territory this season, but territorial firefighters now say “the weather is sort-of cooperating” after weeks of drier, more dangerous conditions.

Fires burning south of Hay River and east of Yellowknife no longer pose any imminent threat.

“We’ll have over 100 firefighters going home this week and we had the chance to give a lot of guys time off,” said territorial duty officer Mike Gravel on Monday.

- Advertisement -

Twenty-one firefighters from Ontario have already left the territory, with another 21 due to head back on Tuesday and 42 more following on Friday.

Twenty firefighters from the Inuvik region will stand down on Tuesday and return north. In total, some 300 firefighters have been working in the NWT in recent weeks.

In detail: More information and maps at NWTFire.com

“Saskatchewan and BC are really stretched. There are no more resources in Canada or the States to help,” said Gravel. “So the fact we got some relief with the weather and got our own people recharged is really important, so we have our own resources available to look after ourselves.”

Yellowknife enjoyed at least eight millimetres of rain on Monday, according to Gravel, though he added it’s nowhere near enough to make a long-term impact on the summer fire season.

- Advertisement -

The fire at Hearne Lake, 50 km east of Yellowknife, is “sitting pretty good” and two crews are monitoring the situation.

Gravel said firefighters “don’t anticipate any problems” with wildfires south of Hay River, and the number of crews working on that fire could be reduced later this week.

The territory is still not in a position to start sending firefighters to assist southern provinces, Gravel added.

“The asks are there, for sure, but at this time we haven’t had the resources to be able to spare them because of our own situation,” he said.

“If we continue to get rain and we don’t anticipate new starts, then we may be able to help southern provinces. After an inch of rain, we might be able to think that way.”

- Advertisement -