Wildfire reaches NWT research station, damage being assessed
A wildfire burning near the Dehcho’s Scotty Creek research station for the past few weeks reached the facility last weekend.
The extent of the damage is still unclear. Two people affiliated with the research station are investigating the situation, according to Dieter Cazon, lands and resources coordinator for the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation.
The First Nation plays a leading role in the work of the research station, which is around 50 km south of Fort Simpson.
“They’re out there right now, seeing what’s still there,” Cazon said.
The Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation is expected to provide a more detailed assessment of the fire’s impact on Wednesday.
Mike Westwick, an NWT government wildfire information officer, said by email that the station did sustain some losses. “Two tents, an outhouse, a shed, and some equipment was lost. Two tents were saved,” he wrote.
Crews have set up structure protection like sprinklers at other cabins and structures in the area, according to Westwick. Due to high winds and dry conditions, the fire has grown to nearly 90,000 hectares and is visible along Highway 1 toward Fort Simpson, he wrote. People in the region are concerned about the smoke, he wrote, but no communities are currently at risk.
Bill Quinton, a Wilfrid Laurier University scientist who is the research station’s director and has been tracking the wildfire’s approach for weeks, was not immediately available for comment.
Last month, when the wildfire first became a threat, Quinton said equipment, infrastructure and research investments worth millions of dollars were at risk.
Fire crews subsequently put in place measures like sprinklers to protect the research station.
Scotty Creek, which has existed since the 1990s, is one of the few long-term research stations in the North.
Caitrin Pilkington contributed reporting.
This article is produced under a Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0 licence through the Wilfrid Laurier University Climate Change Journalism Fellowship.