Nearly 100 people now fighting Hay River-KFN wildfire

Last modified: May 16, 2023 at 5:21pm

Almost a hundred people are now fighting the wildfire at the edge of the Kátł’odeeche First Nation’s reserve, the NWT government says.

Scattered showers had offered a “crucial opening” for firefighters, the territory said on Tuesday afternoon, with air tankers and helicopters in constant service thanks to better visibility.

The fire has now burned 1,782 hectares in a large patch to the east and northeast of the First Nation. The territorial government says no further buildings have been lost, having estimated on Monday that the fire had affected some 15 of the First Nation’s structures to date.


From the air, the fire on Tuesday had lost some of the daunting plume that dominated the skyline and many photos on Sunday and Monday. Instead, a smokey haze could be seen across the burn area.

The Town of Hay River, to the west of the First Nation and the river, remains undamaged by the fire. Both communities have been under an evacuation order since Sunday.

Winds from the northwest have continued to push the fire away from the communities. Fire crews are now working to create a line of removed foliage and other fuel that will contain the fire and keep it from Highway 5, which passes south of the First Nation before reaching Fort Smith and Fort Resolution to the east.

“More hot, dry conditions [are] forecast tomorrow with a shift in wind to the northeast,” the territorial government stated at 4pm on Tuesday. “The team will continue to work tirelessly to fight this fire.”

The Town of Hay River told residents containing the fire will take time and warned them the town will not reopen for at least two or three more days.


The Kátł’odeeche First Nation said road blocks remained in place and the First Nation has no power.

Power distributor Northland Utilities wrote on Twitter: “With the wildfire still considered uncontrolled, we are assessing damages at Kátł’odeeche First Nation and unable to provide a timeline for power restoration.”