Air quality warning in Fort Simpson, Fort Liard over wildfire smoke

Several Dehcho communities are under air quality advisories as smoke from Alberta wildfires drifts across the Northwest Territories.

Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, Jean Marie River and Wrigley were the subjects of a special air quality statement issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada on Saturday afternoon.

The advisory is believed to be the first of its kind this summer for the NWT.


“Smoke is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility” in those communities, the federal agency stated.

The forecast for Fort Simpson on Saturday evening simply read: “Widespread smoke.”

Most of that smoke is understood to be coming from fire complexes in the vicinity of Peace River and High Prairie, Alberta.

The province declared a state of emergency on Saturday, with nearly 25,000 people so far ordered to leave their homes for their own safety.

Alberta has recorded nearly 350,000 burned hectares so far this year. In the NWT, that figure stood at 29 hectares as of Saturday afternoon.


The territory’s only two reported wildfires of 2023 to date are both near Fort Smith.

In Yellowknife, the source of smoke in the air on Saturday was understood to be a wildfire near Fox Lake in northern Alberta.

Evacuees from Fox Lake, which is ordinarily home to around 2,500 people, have been moved to High Level and other nearby communities. Some homes have already been destroyed by that fire.