The town of Fort Smith and a wildfire north of the community are picked out in white circles on a false-colour Sentinel-2 satellite image from July 8, 2023.
The NWT’s wildfire agency says a change in strategy is needed to fight “extreme fire activity” north of Fort Smith.
Wildfire SS022 burned past fire breaks on Sunday, “exceeding control efforts due to extreme conditions and fire activity,” an update on Monday evening read.
The fire is 26 km north of the community. Growth on Monday took place primarily to the north, a fire information officer from the Department of Environment and Climate Change stated.
“We have had to rethink tactics as the fire did not respond to suppression actions taken over the last number of days,” Monday’s update stated.
“Teams will set up sprinklers on cabins in the area to protect them. Ignition operations – carefully planned, intentionally set fires to remove fuel to discourage wildfire growth – are being considered to limit growth to the south towards Fort Smith.”
The fire was reported to have burned through more than 550 hectares as of Monday.
The territory’s wildfire agency said SS022 is about 16 km northwest of Little Bent Tree Lake and 28 km northwest of Schaefer Lakes.
Overall, the NWT moved past 700,000 hectares burned this year on Monday, eclipsing the total area burned in the whole of 2022.
Elsewhere, a wildfire closed the Dempster Highway at the Yukon border while a cabin that caught fire between Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife was quickly dealt with by firefighters.
A fire 30 km southeast of Norman Wells didn’t grow on Monday and is not currently a threat to the town, the GNWT stated.
Near Tulita, a fire south of the Mackenzie River that burned down some cabins over the weekend saw “some growth to the west” but is running into a previous burn area, the territory added. Sprinklers are now running to protect other cabins in the area. The threat to Tulita is being assessed daily.
A new wildfire near Sambaa K’e is not threatening the community and crews “have a good handle on it,” Monday’s update stated, while there were reports of ash in Wekweètì from a wildfire south of Snare Lake.
“We have assessed the area and believe there is a low likelihood of embers travelling across Snare Lake to an area which would be troublesome for Wekweètì,” the update noted.