Some may call it an abundance of precaution, others describe it as panic setting in, but many Yellowknifers are taking action in response to the perceived threat of wildfires.
Yet the city and territorial government insist the capital of the NWT is currently not in harm’s way.
Under ashen skies and acrid smoke, long lineups formed at gas stations around the city today and a heavy flow of outbound vehicles lined the highway going out of town.
Strong winds from the west— reaching speeds up to 60 km/h — have kicked up a lot of activity from fires surrounding Yellowknife, according to NWT Fire information officer Mike Westwick on Sunder afternoon.
However, the only places in the North Slave region under evacuation alert are North Prosperous Lake, North Predude Lake and River Lake, where homeowners and cabin owners have been advised that they may be ordered to leave as of 8 a.m. on Monday morning. But, as of Sunday, the blaze is not expected to reach the Ingraham Trail.
“Air tankers have been deployed as visibility permits, and good work has been done throughout the day,” Westwick said.
An operation is planned for Monday in the general area of Jennejohn Lake, where vegetation will be deliberately burned to prevent the blaze from reaching Dettah and the Ingraham Trail.
Westwick reminded residents to a stay safe and stay informed.
City ‘not at risk’
The City of Yellowknife issued another assurance to residents early Sunday evening.
“Despite the increasingly smoky conditions, our community is not currently at risk due to the ongoing wildfires,” a news release reads.
The municipality and its contractors continue to expand firebreaks and install sprinklers as precautionary measures.
“The city is proactively working with the GNWT and other partners at this time to monitor and assess risk and take precautionary measures,” the statement reads.
Residents are encouraged to respect the fire ban and refrain from throwing cigarette butts or using equipment that causes sparks, such as all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes, in areas with brush.
The city’s website has more information on how to make properties less susceptible to fire.
Emergency preparedness tips are available at: www.getprepared.gc.ca
Meanwhile, Andrew Lowry was among the clusters of Yellowknifers fueling up their vehicles.
“Everyone is kind of like, a fire is coming, obviously. So everyone wants to get prepared for it just in case it comes into the town,” he said.
He added that although he wasn’t panicked, he must be prepared.