Crews strengthening protections against KFN-Hay River wildfire
After a slightly easier day than anticipated fighting the Hay River-KFN wildfire on Friday, crews will continue strengthening protections today.
In a Saturday morning update, the NWT’s wildfire agency said the wildfire is still “out of control,” but yesterday’s slight rain and lower-than-expected winds provided an opportunity to get important work done.
On Friday, support from air tankers and helicopters managed to slow the fire’s growth toward Highway 5, although heavy smoke affected the area.
“We continue to coordinate with the Department of Infrastructure as needed on highway matters,” the agency stated on Facebook.
Yesterday’s progress in fighting the fire also included strengthening a dozer line around the southwest corner of the fire, which is intended to limit the fire’s spread and reduce the risk of embers being carried into Hay River.
In addition, crews worked to protect structures, widen the road through Kátł’odeeche First Nation and strengthen defenses around the First Nation’s Old Village, the territory stated.
On Saturday, moderate winds blowing from the southeast, along with hot, dry conditions, are expected to create an active fire day.
Nonetheless, “decent conditions are expected for fighting the fire,” the Town of Hay River said in a Saturday morning update.
In preparation, the territory’s fire agency said that crews are continuing to build upon dozer line defenses and to limit the fire’s growth towards the south.
More equipment and personnel are also expected to arrive today.
According to the Town of Hay River, a sprinkler system from Parks Canada is expected to arrive and be deployed today within the town.
Along McBryan Drive and Miron Drive, 90 percent of properties have had roof sprinklers deployed and “residential water tanks on Mile 5 have been filled for proactive purposes,” the town stated.
The town said no ignitions occurred within Hay River yesterday or overnight and sprinkler systems will be relocated as fire conditions change.
Yesterday, residents remaining in Hay River were told that it was critical to leave. At least six people were evacuated yesterday, according to Saturday morning’s update.
In another update on Saturday afternoon, the territory’s wildfire agency said that, in addition to strengthening defenses, limiting growth and protecting structures, an ignition operation will be completed today around the Sandy Creek Lodge and along the southeast flank of the fire.
“Ignition operations are carefully planned, intentionally set fires designed to remove vegetation and discourage growth of fire,” the territory stated on Facebook.
The goal is to protect the lodge, which is east of Hay River and KFN, and limit the fire’s growth to the south, east and west.
The territory expects the operation to produce smoke.