Smoke warnings in the Northwest Territories as fires loom on the horizon

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A range of areas in the Northwest Territories are facing smoke advisories ahead of the weekend with wildfire plumes clearly visible from communities.

As of 12:30 p.m. Friday, smoke warnings were in effect for Yellowknife, Fort Good Hope, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River, Kakisa, Norman Wells, Tulita and Wrigley.

“Smoke from wildfires leads to poor air quality and reduced visibility, due to high values ​​of fine particulate matter,” reads the Environment Canada advisory.

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One fire on the Yellowknife skyline contributing to smoke in the city is ZF009, a fire in the North Arm of Great Slave Lake that has been burning since June. A large plume from that fire was clearly visible Thursday evening.

An image submitted by Caroline Cox shows the ZF009 fire across the North Arm of Great Slave Lake on August 18, 2022, as seen from Dettah
An image submitted by Caroline Cox shows the ZF009 fire across the North Arm of Great Slave Lake on August 18, 2022, as seen from Dettah.

The ZF075 fire, discovered about 10 km west of the city on Thursday, is also contributing to the haze according to the Government of the Northwest Territories Wildfire Information Team.

A crew spent the night battling that blaze, Northwest Territories fire information officer Jessica Davey-Quantick said by email, and a tanker plane was enlisted to help. The fire was last reported over an area of ​​0.4 hectares.

“We had multiple fires in the area as well as wind blowing smoke from the fires further,” Davey-Quantick wrote. “With the hot, dry winds we have over most of the territory, existing fires are becoming more active – it’s basically like blowing on a campfire.”

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A large plume visible from Fort Smith on Thursday is attributed to fire SS069, about 38 km northeast of the city. This fire now covers more than 3,000 hectares.

Davey-Quantick said the fire had “received limited action with two tanker missions”.

“Crews are aware of the values ​​of the area and have installed sprinkler kits on four cabins to protect them,” she wrote.

In Fort Simpson, the Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources warned of smoke and ash on Thursday as shifting winds blew smoke into the community.

“Today’s winds are expected to be variable to southwest,” Davey-Quantick said Friday of the Fort Simpson forecast.

“At this time, there is no risk to the community, but they may continue to experience smoke and ash.”

The fire in question is FS009, located approximately 60 km northwest of Fort Simpson and approximately 25 km from Highway 1.

The Government of the Northwest Territories said on its website that the fire, covering more than 2,100 hectares, is “active due to high winds and dry conditions in the area and has caused numerous reports “.

“After successful protection of a cabin in the area, value protection increases on cabins near this fire,” the territory said.

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