The fire situation between Fort Simpson and Wrigley is so severe that the Department of Infrastructure has closed Highway 1 between km marker 553 and 690. The Ndulee ferry has also been closed to the public.
In a Wednesday special bulletin on the status of a wildfire in the Dehcho region between the aforementioned communities — a blaze known as FS-008 — NWT Fire hopes to address public concerns and snuff out some unhelpful rumours.
Officials say Fire FS-008 has grown to approximately 3,000 hectares on both sides of the highway, about six kilometres north of the Willowlake River, and 40 kilometres south of Wrigley.
Currently, multiple fire crews are onsite, as is an Incident Management Team protecting cabins to the north and the houses at Willowlake River. There is also an air tanker group based in Fort Simpson attacking the fire from the air. In the days ahead, officials expect this wildfire to grow with dry weather, and smoke to remain heavy in the area.
But officials insist reports that the blaze may be threatening the community of Wrigley are false, at least for now. While they recognize it’s natural to feel unnerved with heavy smoke, flames visible in many areas, and highways and ferry service shut down, they are urging residents to avoid sharing unconfirmed information, and they are pleading with people to turn to credible local news sources for reliable, up-to-date information.
While there is no threat to the community at this time, they remind situations can change fast and it’s important to stay aware and be prepared. They encourage everyone to review household emergency plans and emergency kits and to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, should things change. Officials also urge residents to follow local air quality notifications from the health department and take care of vulnerable people including children and the elderly.
To prevent wildfires from sparking or spreading, NWT Fire is also appealing to the public to avoid all open flames, never leave a fire unattended, and use the soak-stir-soak method with water and a stick until the area above the embers is cold to the touch. More fires will only add to the danger and challenge crews even more.