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NWT Wildfires: Fort Smith aiming for Sept. 18 return date

Fort Smith is shooting for a re-entry date of Sept. 18, but the community’s evacuation order is extended well past that.
Fort Smith deputy mayor says the community is shooting for a Sept. 18 return date. Photo courtesy Wood Buffalo National Park

Fort Smith is shooting for a re-entry date of Sept. 18, but the community’s evacuation order is extended well past that.

During an update at a press conference Sept. 14, Fort Smith Deputy Mayor Jay MacDonald said fire behaviour has diminished and essential services began returning to the community Sept. 12.

“The situation in Fort Smith remains very similar to how it was a week ago and is still not safe for the general population to return at this time,” he said. “The local state of emergency has been extended to September. 21st. The evacuation order will remain in place until it is diseased deemed safe to renew or amend and allow the general population back into the community.

“The forecast for the coming weekend predicts a warming and drying chain risk southerly winds, which has the potential to make the player more active. The unified command is confident that the containment lines identified as control are secure based on the current resources available area. Upon your return to Fort Smith you may see road closures limited access to certain areas active finer, some areas have reduced speed limits, which will be strictly enforced by the RCMP with a zero tolerance policy for the safety of all the personnel.”

He said a welcome centre has been established at the recreation centre.

K’atl’odeeche First Nation is also working on its re-entry plan.

“This is now our third evacuation in just about a year,” said KFN chief April Martel. “It’s a learning process for all of us. We should be working together for betterment of our people.”

Noting this was the second fire-oriented evacuation, Martel said the community was working on its re-entry plan.

An air quality testing group was expected to be in the community tomorrow.

Hay River mayor Kandis Jameson called on returning essential workers to shop local.

“Our small businesses have been under significant financial hardship through an evacuation that will exceed five weeks,” she said. “They need your support and I will be reaching out to Local and Territorial chambers to discuss further supports while the initial support was valued during the evacuation and does not consider a shutdown of this length and the magnitude of lost revenues.”

About the Author: Eric Bowling

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