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Fort Smith resident’s petition calling for inquiry into wildfire response nears 1,000 signatures

Hay River Kakisa wildfire SS052 as seen from the air last summer. Photo courtesy of the GNWT

A petition calling on the GNWT to launch a public inquiry into last summer’s wildfire response had received almost 1,000 signatures as of Monday.

The petition is asking for an investigation into how the Hay River-Enterprise-Kakisa wildfire was managed and the decisions leading up to the evacuation orders of Aug. 13. In particular, the petition is asking for an investigation into why authorities evacuated residents from Fort Smith, Hay River and the K’átl’odeeche First Nation “along an unmonitored highway.”

“People fleeing along Highway 2 drove through thick smoke, flying embers and falling ash and debris as a fire tore down the highway a few hours later and flames raged on both sides,” it states. “This wildfire event raises troubling public safety issues; involves multiple departments of the Government of the Northwest Territories, and municipal governments; affects more than 5,000 residents of Fort Smith, Hay River, Kátł’odeeche and Enterprise; and caused significant damage to homes, businesses, property and the loss of life of animals,” it continues.

Fort Smith resident Helena Katz set up the petition on, urging the premier “to investigate the role and actions of both territorial and municipal governments in this wildfire and evacuation.”

According to Katz, the petition and accompanying letters of support will be sent to the premier and commissioner of the NWT sometime this month.