Crews battling the wildfire near Fort Smith past Bell Rock have been making some headway, according to the latest update from the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

The department announced as of 12:45 p.m. Saturday afternoon that progress had been made to contain the fire, known as SS002-03. It hasn’t grown in size and crews battling the blaze have managed to complete around 70 per cent of perimeter around the fire.

Firefighters have also been doing what’s known as ‘blacklining’, which is intentionally burning wood, grass and other fuel to ensure the fire doesn’t grow.

No damage has been reported to any structure or infrastructure in the area and the highway remains open to all traffic, but travellers in the area should drive with caution and follow any signage.

Mike Westwick, the wildlife information officer for the department, said on Friday evening that the likely cause of the fire was an escaped burn pile and it was burning out of control.

Firefighting teams were prioritizing the protection of cabins, residences and highway and fibre infrastructure. Smoke and flames were visible within town limits, but the town was under no threat and that situation remains unchanged.

Two teams were originally sent to fight the fire, but that number has doubled to four. Those teams are being assisted by aircraft and heavy equipment, along with help from the Fort Smith Fire Department. The department said milder temperatures on Saturday has led to less active fire behaviour than Friday and that’s helping with the situation.

Smoke from fires had begun to make its way north with the scent of smoke hitting Yellowknife on Saturday, but the smell had all but dissipated by Sunday.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the smoke in Yellowknife originated from the Fort Smith Fire. It came from fires in Alberta. The story has been corrected and NNSL Media apologizes for the error.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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