Kakisa is now under evacuation order as residents of Yellowknife continue to make their way southward.

An update was given by officials at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 over Microsoft Teams.

“We were once again able to fly, this is good news,” said wildfire information officer Mike Westwick. “We managed to not have the highway impacted as folks make their way to safety.

“We can began laying down fire retardant to the west of the city of Yellowknife.”

Assessments are still coming in, but Westwick said the fire was expected to have moved slightly closer to Yellowknife.

Meanwhile, the Ingraham Trail fire has been beaten back thanks to good weather that enabled air attack. Westwick said the fire is also expected to have grown to the south but has not made it to the trail.

Both fires are still expected to potentially reach their expected destinations by the weekend. Westwick said the area received just under a millimetre of rain and is expecting to see North to Northwest winds in the coming days.

“That will move both those fires in directions we don’t want,” said Westwick, who added the city was laying out extensive lines of sprinkler systems and fuel breaks.

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty thanked residents who had evacuated and asked anyone who has not to do so.

“The highway is open but it is subject to change any time,” she said. “It’s not just the fire, but also the heavy smoke that will be occurring.”

Director of public works and engineering Chris Greencorn detailed the process the city was undergoing to protect itself.

He said the system established would provide over 500 gallons of water as the city’s main line of defence. He said four guards have been established to protect the city from the wildfires.

Over 2,000 evacuees have registered on the NWT evacuee portal. A total of 1,500 were airlifted out of the city today. Emergency management organization ( EMO ) information officer Jennifer Young said that consisted of 10 flights with 22 more flights scheduled.

Acting ADM for regional operations Jeffrey Edison told media 1,419 vehicles have crossed the Dehcho bridge but there was no concerns of fuel outages along the roadways.

Northwest Territories Health and Social Services authority CEO Kimberly Riles said that the plan was to evacuate all inpatients of Stanton Hospital to safety.

Officials are asking residents who are able to travel on road to leave Yellowknife by noon on Friday, Aug. 18. However, Young said the evacuation would continue until they were confident that the city had been evacuated.

Yellowknife issued an evacuation order Aug. 16 after it was determined a nearby wildfire could potentially reach the city by the weekend. Residents have been given until 12:00 p.m. Aug. 18 to leave the city.

Free flights were flown out of Yellowknife to Calgary throughout the day to take people unable to evacuate by road and bus services have also been available. Hundreds of people lined up for the trip, filling the planes to capacity and many more had to leave. People who are immunocompromised, had mobility issues or had other chronic health conditions that made the most particularly dangerous were given priority.

Registration to fly out will resume at 6 a.m. Aug. 18. Flight schedules are being developed for the entire day and into Saturday, Aug. 19. Young said the Saturday flights were dependent on weather and safety.

Evacuees travelling by road are being asked to arrange their own accommodations where possible. Carpooling is encouraged to both reduce traffic and to assist those without a vehicle.

All evacuees are asked to register at a reception centre upon reaching their destination. Evacuees taken by air to Calgary will be taken to the local reception centre. The other reception centres for Yellowknife evacuees are as follows:

  • Westin Calgary Airport, 671 Aero Drive NE
  • Fox Creek Hall, 200 1st Street, Fox Creek
  • Parkland Motels II, 10710 101 Ave, Lac la Biche – Health services are limited in this community.
  • G.H. Dawe Community Centre, 6175 67 St, Red Deer
  • Polar Palace Arena, 4429 52 Ave, Valleyview
  • Allen and Jean Millar Centre, 58 Sunset Blvd, Whitecourt
  • 5001 44 Ave, Fort Vermillion
  • Edmonton EXPO Centre – Hall C, 7515 118 Ave NW

Evacuees from the South Slave, including Hay River, Enterprise, Fort Smith and K’atlodeeche First Nation are asked to travel to one of the following locations:

  • Leduc Recreation Centre, 4330 Black Gold Drive, Leduc, Alberta
  • Baytex Energy Centre: 9810 73 Ave, Peace River
  • Clearwater Hotel: 4 Haineault St., Fort McMurray

Do not travel to St. Albert or Grande Prairie as their reception centres are at full capacity. Anyone still in Hay River who needed to be flown out on Aug. 17 was flown to Lloydminister.

Kakisa residents are asked to inform the band office when leaving or if not possible to register at the reception centre in Fort Simpson. Jean Marie River residents have been evacuated to Fort Simpson.

People evacuating the NWT are also being offered free camping in all Province of Alberta maintained campgrounds. To do so, first register as an evacuee at a reception centre. Then phone the Alberta Parks Contact Centre at 1-877-537-2757 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to be matched to a campsite for up to 10 consecutive days.

Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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