The Hay River-KFN wildfire on May 14, 2023. Photo: Rosie Wallington
More than a million hectares of the Northwest Territories has now been burned by wildfires this summer.
This year is only the second since 1999, when Nunavut became a separate territory, that the modern NWT has reached the million-hectare mark.
The other was in 2014, the territory’s record season, which reached 3.4 million hectares burned.
At least two months of the ordinary summer wildfire season remain.
Canada as a whole has now reached more than 11 million hectares burned, a figure almost three times as severe as any other recently recorded season.
Nearly five million hectares of that burn has occurred in Quebec, followed by Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, then the NWT.
The territory’s area burned as of Sunday was 1.14 million hectares – the equivalent, in case this helps visually (it probably won’t), of about 1.6 million average-sized soccer fields. The Sahtu land claim, by comparison, covers just over four million hectares.
This summer’s figure is a preliminary estimate based on mapping conducted by the territory’s wildfire agency whenever possible. Once the season ends, a finalized figure is produced for inclusion in annual national reports.
Over the past quarter of a century, the average wildfire season in the NWT has burned just under 200,000 hectares.