HAY RIVER, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES, CANADA — Fire crews in the Northwest Territories say work continues fighting hot spots and flareups near evacuated communities while area residents wait to hear when they can return home.
Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said workers are busy bringing essential services online, and hope remains that residents will be allowed to start coming back this weekend.
Essential workers have also returned to Fort Smith, on the Alberta boundary, but it is still not safe for the general population to return.
K’atl’odeeche First Nation Chief April Martel said crews are now conducting air and water quality tests to prepare for residents’ returning.
Re-entry to the territorial capital of Yellowknife began a week ago.
Fire information officer Mike Westwick cautioned returning residents that crews will likely be putting out hot spots and fires for the rest of the season.
“All of these fires will need to be managed until the snow falls,” Westwick told reporters on a conference call Thursday.
“You’re not returning to a fire-free community and you’re not returning to a risk-free community. 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 urged returning residents to be alert for hazards like heavy equipment and unstable trees with compromised root systems that are more liable to topple over.
“What you’re returning to may be tough to see,” said Westwick.
“There’s a lot of folks who have lost homes, cabins and a number of other things they treasure to these fires.”
— By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.
The Canadian Press