The City of Yellowknife laid out its efforts to create 100-metre wide fire breaks in several key areas as it held a meeting on Monday afternoon to address wildfire concerns.
The first fire break is located along Deh Cho Boulevard and heads to the west of the Sand Pits.
City manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett said this fire break has been under construction since the August long weekend and will be complemented with sprinklers on the eastern side to saturate the ground in case of fire.
She pointed out that another important area for fire protection is around the Engle Business District. The city is working to put an entire fire break around this area to mitigate any potential risks. Fire breaks are also being constructed along Fiddler’s Lagoon Road and Deh Cho Boulevard.
The municipality is also installing sprinklers in several areas, including Grace Lake, near Enterprise Drive and in Kam lake. These areas are considered lower risk, “but the city still sees them as a priority for setting up sprinklers,” said Bassi-Kellett.
She acknowledged that the Behchoko/Yellowknife fire, known as ZF015 had broken through a defensive position that fire crews had established. It’s moved to within 30 km of the city as of the last update from the GNWT.
“This breach is now significant. Our number one priority is containing it,” NWT Fire stated in a Monday update.
Bassi-Kellett has met with the Fire Chief Nelson Johnson and director of public safety Craig MacLean about that particular concern.
“They’re monitoring the breach so that they’re working and doing everything they can so that conditions can be mitigated,” she said. “At this point in time, (the territorial government’s fire division is) doing aerial suppression with water-bombers and helicopters and they are looking at retardants as well to build up fire guards at Boundary Creek.”
She added that the city will make sure to keep residents informed, even if cellphone signals go down.
“For example, there would be communication locations and whether or not we are posting big updates, taping them to the front windows of city hall, the Multiplex, other places around town so that there are communications updates,” said Bassi-Kellett.
During the meeting, Mayor Rebbeca Alty said the city has been working proactively to implement its fire protection plan. Contractors with the necessary equipment were identified and brought in to help with the work.