A wildfire outside Wekweètì on June 28, 2023 is seen in a still from a video taken by Pamela Lamouelle.
Wekweètì’s 140 residents have been told to evacuate immediately as a chain of wildfires around the community grows.
Aircraft are being sent to the Tłı̨chǫ community, which is accessible by air only in the summer, as that evacuation begins. Residents will be brought to Yellowknife.
Storms rolling through the Tłı̨chǫ region on Wednesday triggered a series of wildfires in their wake. The most threatening of those is ZF009, which the NWT government said on Thursday was within two kilometres of some homes (and not on an island outside Wekweètì, as the GNWT had initially reported).
Five air tankers and multiple helicopters are working on the fire “to limit the spread to the community,” the territory’s wildfire agency stated on Thursday.
Structure protection equipment and two fire crews are expected to arrive later in the day.
Two other fires are located across Snare Lake from the community and at the western tip of the lake respectively.
Residents of Wekweètì had been placed on evacuation alert earlier on Thursday morning.
Residents reported the nearest fire to the community appeared to have died down somewhat overnight, though most wildfires tend to recede at night and can experience a resurgence in the following day’s heat.
Wekweètì is the fourth NWT community to face evacuation over nearby wildfires during Canada’s worst summer season on record.
Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation were evacuated in May and residents of Sambaa K’e have spent a month displaced from their homes as efforts to contain a huge fire south of their community continue.