As evacuees from Hay River and the K’atl’odeeche First Nation await word for when they can return home, their situation is a reminder of how dangerous conditions are in wooded areas, especially as tinder dry as they are right now.
That includes here in Yellowknife and one resident posted something to social media earlier this week which showed how the situation could have gotten out of hand very quickly.
Emily Jean was out on an evening walk with her dog on a path leading from Gitzel Street to the Pat McMahon Frame Lake Trail last weekend. Nothing out of the ordinary — until she came across a bed of pine needles still burning in a dry, grassy portion of the path.
“I felt it had the potential to turn into something serious being as late as it was, and hidden off the main Frame Lake Trail as it was, it was on a trail mainly used by residents cutting through to get to the townhomes/apartments,” she said to Yellowknifer on Monday.
Even worse, according to Jean, was something not far away from the fire that could have made things a whole lot worse.
”There is a giant propane tank that is used to heat the homes — I would say the tank was less than 200 ft. away,” she added.
Jean said she hauled buckets of water to the fire and extinguished it before it grew any larger. It left charred remains in the ground and left Jean in a rather upset state.
”I don’t understand how someone could have such disregard for there actions or the danger they could be potentially putting people in,” she said. “That area has a lot of dead trees that would light up and spread. It’s like having rows of matchsticks. Honestly, it feels as if common sense isn’t so common anymore.”
Neither Craig MacLean, the city’s director of public safety, nor Nelson Johnson, the city’s fire chief, were available for an interview about the incident, but the city did respond by instituting a fire ban city-wide which begins today.
The restriction will be effect on all open air fire pits in the city and will remain in effect until further notice. The Yellowknife Fire Division is implementing this ban to reduce the risk of fires within the city limits due to current conditions.
Propane-fueled pits and barbecues are not affected by the ban.