The territory can expect more lightning-caused fires this weekend, according to Richard Olsen, manager of fire operations in the NWT.

While fire activity remains normal for this time of year, hot and dry conditions matched with increased incidents of lighting will likely lead to more fires by the end of the week, he told reporters Monday.

The report follows a dozen person-caused fires in the territory this year. Three were in the North Slave, five were in the South Slave, and four in the Dehcho. An additional fire near the Alberta border and Highway 1 is the first lightning-caused fire of the season.

“We’re right on the cusp of when lightning is going to increase the number of lightning starts,” said Olsen.

Meanwhile, the territory’s firefighting services will be in full operation following the end of training. Two casual crews will join the 32 regular fire crews, combining for an active force of 136 firefighters.

“The bulk of our guys have finished training and we’re pretty much into full operations as it is right now,” he said.

He encouraged caution with any kind of campfire as trips into the bush become more common. When building a fire, it’s best to pick an area free of vegetation, and use rocks to clear down to mineral soil. This will reduce the chance of fire spreading into the surrounding forest, he said.

A spokesperson for the GNWT reiterated the importance of fire safety, saying fires should be treated with care. Likewise, other than for cooking or warmth, fires require a burn permit. Bonfires are also prohibited.

Similarly, residents are encouraged not to leave a fire unattended in a territorial park. Before leaving a fire, it’s best to make sure it is fully extinguished by soaking the ashes, stirring them and then soaking them again.

The spokesperson said fire danger levels will likely remain high or extreme in the South Slave for the rest of the week. Levels are meanwhile expected to decrease in Fort Simpson, Wrigley and Nahanni Butte by the end of the week, while Fort Liard remains at extreme toward the weekend. In the North Slave, fire danger is low.

Finally, the next few days will likely see danger levels rise in the Inuvik and Sahtu regions, the spokesperson said.

If you spot a wildfire, you are encouraged to report it by dialing 1-877-NWT-FIRE (698-3473).

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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