Wildfire moves closer to research station, teams brace for worst


A crew working to protect the Dehcho’s Scotty Creek Research Station from an approaching wildfire will fly out of the area on Thursday evening as heavy smoke worsens.

The fire, which was roughly two kilometres from the research station on Wednesday, is now even closer, according to Bill Quinton, director of Scotty Creek.

Quinton said strong winds are blowing from the direction of the fire and there’s a high risk that the research station will be in the fire’s path.

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“The next two days are going to be really critical,” he said.

Firefighters flown into the area on Wednesday have been soaking infrastructure and surrounding land and removing nearby trees, Quinton said.

No fire break was built, as had been earlier suggested. Mike Westwick, an NWT government wildfire information officer, clarified by email that the plan had always been to focus on structure protection.

Firefighters and Scotty Creek team members will soon leave the research station, south of Fort Simpson, as smoke is expected to get worse over the next two days and poor visibility would complicate a recovery pickup, according to Quinton.

The team will leave generator-powered hoses running when they leave to continue soaking the area until the generators run out of gas.

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“We’re leaving the camp unattended, hoping for the best,” Quinton said. The plan is to go back into the area on Saturday to give everything another soak, he said.

Although Quinton is mentally preparing himself for the worst, he’s trying to stay positive. “We’ll deal with whatever comes out of it.”

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This article is produced under a Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0 licence through the Wilfrid Laurier University Climate Change Journalism Fellowship.