Much of the past three weeks has been spent trying to make the First Nation’s reserve safe for people to return, dealing with issues such as debris, hot spots from the fire and downed power lines.
Members of the public who don’t live on the reserve are still barred from entering. The First Nation said a security checkpoint exists at its entrance.
“Most services are not up and running yet – power, water and sewer services will follow,” returning residents were told in a Facebook update.
“If you are a KFN member returning home, turn off the breaker panel in your house. This is a necessary step before power can be turned back on.”
The First Nation intends to use its wellness centre as a makeshift band office for the time being.
By Thursday, KFN said, the wellness centre will offer emergency assistance registration forms, cleaning kits and meals, with services such as crisis and mental wellness supports to follow.
Meanwhile, the Town of Hay River ended its evacuation alert, resuming normal service within the municipality. The town lies across the river from the First Nation and was not as badly affected by the fire. Residents had been allowed to return to the town on May 25.
“The risk from the recent fire has been reduced and the fire has been in ‘being held’ since May 26,” the town wrote.
“Support services, including the Hay River Regional Health Centre, have been restored to normal operations, and the Town of Hay River has instituted Fire Smart measures to further reduce risk.”
The NWT’s wildfire agency said the fire outside KFN is now considered under control.
“There will still be firefighting personnel working in the area,” the territory told returning residents. “They are continuing mop-up work. You can think of this as a large-scale version of soaking, stirring, and soaking your campfire.
“This work has largely concluded within the populated areas of the reserve. However, there is still work to be done in the centre of the fire – further away from populated areas. The risk of flare-ups exists in this area because there remains forest which did not burn within the area where the forest was burning most intensely.
“With extremely hot weather expected in a few days, this is a distinct possibility. Residents may see smoke or fire. It is important to note that, unless there is a new start outside of the area the fire burned, there is nowhere for these flare-ups to go.”