The wildfire on the K’atl’odeeche First Nation (KFN) continues to rage out of control as of Monday afternoon and crews are still doing whatever they can to try and mitigate the spread.
The latest update from NWT Fire indicated that the blaze was last mapped at a little more than 3,200 hectares in size and there is still no fire within the town limits of Hay River.
Cooler temperatures on Monday were expected and that made the ground cooler, according to the update, which gave crews battling the fire a chance to make some headway before activity was expected to pick up.
While it was cooler, the one thing crews didn’t get was rain, which kept the air dry. The plan on Monday was for crews to try and hold the lines along the southeast flank and the southern side of the fire. That would limit the growth of the blaze toward Highway 5 and Hay River itself. Air support was continuing as needed with that. Structure protection was ongoing on Monday with crews from both the town and KFN helping out where it could.
On Sunday, crews were working to protect the northeast corner of the fire near the Old Village on the reserve. Vegetation was burned off near Sandy Creek Lodge, which would make the lodge less affected by any fire. Dozer lines were also improved to help protect Hay River.
Crews were also busy widening dozer lines on the KFN access road, nearly reaching the end at the junction.
Close to 150 firefighters are working on containing the blaze.
Evacuees from the town and reserve were planning on spending a few more days away from home in various communities. The state of emergency The majority of those who were forced out of their homes are in Yellowknife, while some have found shelter in Enterprise and Fort Providence.
Patrick Bergen, Hay River’s assistant senior administrative officer, said that there are still people evacuating to Yellowknife.
Those who choose to stay, though, are putting themselves in danger.
“There were another four people from Hay River and Enterprise that took the bus to Yellowknife (Sunday),” he said. “There are some people that have not evacuated – I can’t confirm the number yet – who do not have any supports and are a risk to the responders that are focused on the fire.”
Bergen also said there hasn’t been any consideration taken on the town’s part in forcing those who are staying to evacuate.
Virtually all of the town’s businesses have shut, but Super A Foods is remaining open on reduced hours to provide food and necessities for fire crews. Fields is also operating on a reduced-hours basis. The hospital, pharmacy and any other municipal service are not operating, said Bergen.
Bergen also confirmed that elderly patients have been safely evacuated from the area and are receiving support whenever it’s needed.
Hay River RCMP and the town’s fire department have been working around the clock in town, he added.
“The RCMP has been providing 24-hour coverage throughout,” he said. “The fire department has monitored the fire 24/7 since the beginning and worked on mitigation measures, such as setting up sprinklers for at-risk homes and banks that may ignite if there is an ember that travels across the river. The embers have landed and been put out a number of times.”