A firefighter sets up a sprinkler to protect a structure in the Sahtu during the 2022 wildfire season. Photo: GNWT
High winds and lightning in the Northwest Territories could start new fires or exacerbate existing ones this weekend, the territory has warned.
One new fire was identified in the past 24 hours, about 85 km southeast of Dettah. The fire, a hectare and a half in size, has been attacked from the air and has a crew assigned to it.
There are also fires of concern on the west side of Marion Lake, 36 km outside Whatì, and about 30 km outside Tulita. Both are being monitored closely, the territorial government said, and there is no cause for concern.
The fire near Tulita “is currently blowing north, away from the community, and we expect winds to transition to westerly overnight and get some rain showers, which will also push the fire away from the community and reduce fire intensity,” said Mike Westwick, a spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, on Friday.
However, while the weather may help calm the Tulita fire, Westwick said strong winds from the south are “expected to cause extreme fire behaviour and significant growth” in other parts of the territory on Saturday, particularly in the Tłı̨chǫ region, including Whatì.
“We’re expecting to see some more lightning outbreaks, after a bit of a break over the past week or so, and that’s probably going to cause more natural fire starts,” said Westwick.
“Fire danger is expected to be high or extreme for at least some monitoring stations in every region except the Beaufort Delta throughout the weekend.
“It’s as important as ever for folks to know that fire danger before they head out and avoid any fires that aren’t for cooking or warmth if the fire danger is high or extreme in that area.”