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Smith’s Landing helps crews battling wildfire near Fort Fitzgerald

A false-colour Sentinel-2 image shows a wildfire burning southeast of Fort Fitzgerald on July 13, 2023.
A false-colour Sentinel-2 image shows a wildfire burning southeast of Fort Fitzgerald on July 13, 2023.

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Smith’s Landing First Nation says it is working closely with Alberta fire crews to confront an out-of-control wildfire southeast of Fort Fitzgerald.

In a message to residents, the First Nation said there was no need for alarm. Alberta Wildfire says the lightning-caused fire has burned 35,000 hectares to date but remains some 20 km from Fort Fitzgerald.

The Dene Nation’s annual assembly, scheduled to be hosted by Smith’s Landing First Nation between July 18 and July 20, is going ahead as planned, the First Nation said.

The First Nation said fire crews are establishing a camp at Thebacha Nare, otherwise known as Border Town, immediately adjacent to the NWT-Alberta border.

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“There will be many fire personnel, equipment, machines, and activities moving onto reserve starting Sunday afternoon,” a statement posted to the First Nation’s Facebook page read.

“We are uncertain of how long the camp will remain, but please be mindful that they are working hard to keep our community safe.

“There will be opportunities for jobs with the camp, as well as times to meet personnel and ask questions, but please be careful over the coming days while they are setting up.”

Sprinklers will be established around Fort Fitzgerald on Monday, and residents are asked to avoid travelling south to Hay Camp by boat until further notice. Information about what to do if an evacuation is needed will be circulated in the coming days, the First Nation said.

“We are actively participating in suppression planning, structural protection, and providing expertise from our Elders and land users regarding fire behaviour on the landscape,” the statement added.

“We want to commend the hundreds of firefighters, support staff, and government agencies working around the clock to ensure the protection of our community.”