The burn area of fire FS001, south and east of Sambaa K'e, seen in a June 5 Sentinel-2 satellite image.
The NWT government says a huge wildfire south of Sambaa K’e has destroyed at least two cabins.
“Two individuals have been informed their cabins have been lost. It is believed to have occurred during explosive growth of the wildfire last week,” the territory’s wildfire agency stated on Thursday evening.
“Sometimes, firefighters can’t make it in time safely – especially when facing large, fierce wildfires.”
A separate fire, originally started as an intentional burn in the hope of protecting Sambaa K’e, also led to the destruction of a home in the past week.
“Although hot, dry conditions continued, with winds picking up, the fire has not advanced toward Sambaa K’e,” the territory reported on Thursday.
“To protect things people value beyond the community, the team have been conducting small-scale backburns around some structures. The intent is to discourage the fire from consuming these structures if the fire gets close.
“They also continued to install and maintain sprinklers for structure protection within the community and beyond, as they put sprinklers on additional cabins.”
Sambaa K’e has been under an evacuation order since May 31, with most of the community’s 100 or so residents waiting anxiously in Fort Simpson. The community can only be accessed by air for most of the year.
Wildfire FS001 has remained around 10 kilometres south of Sambaa K’e for the past few days. More than 100 kilometres wide, the fire has mostly developed on its eastern flank – far from the community.
The fire could reach Sambaa K’e “in the days ahead as the weather is expected to heat up, and winds from the south are expected to return tomorrow,” the territory’s wildfire agency stated.
“We’ll be doing all we can on the ground to protect the community, should the time come.”
Meanwhile, air tankers are also working on a smaller wildfire that has begun north of Sambaa K’e lake at Moose River.
The Sahtu has also recorded its first significant wildfire of the season. Fire VQ002, between Wrigley and Délı̨nę, has so far burned 132 hectares.
Wildfires have now burned more than 400,000 hectares of NWT land this summer – more than in five of the past 10 entire summer seasons, and the second week of June is only just beginning.
Nationally, Canada has already surpassed all recent years for area burned.
The country’s battle against wildfires made global headlines this week as thick smoke from fires in eastern Canada blanketed the likes of Toronto, Boston and New York City.