Even though an evacuation order is in force, RCMP say they will not force anyone who refuses to leave out of their homes.
But they are reminding people that staying behind puts themselves and first responders at risk.
“As part of an evacuation order, the RCMP will ask residents to move to a safe location,” said NT RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Matt Halstead. “Where people are fully informed of the imminent risks, they are entitled to remain on their property. We will not force people to leave.
“It is important for people to understand that anyone who chooses to ignore evacuation orders is potentially putting not only themselves in danger, but also placing first responders in harm’s way.”
He noted RCMP had not yet heard any reports of people refusing to leave, but added police would have a better idea of if anyone actually does plan on staying after the 12 p.m. Aug. 18 deadline has passed.
Halstead noted the danger of staying isn’t limited to the fire reaching the city. Should important infrastructure stop working it could cause other safety hazards for people.
“If communications are lost there will be no way to call for help,” he noted.
Emergency management organization information officer Jennifer Young said the GNWT is encouraging people to evacuate, but is unable to force people to leave their homes if they outright refuse.
“We are unable to physically remove residents if their choice is not to remove.”