An Alaskan firefighter drafted in to help fight fire ZF015. Photo: GNWT
Storms sweeping across the Tłı̨chǫ and North Slave on Saturday brought much-needed rain in places, but also threatened the prospect of new lightning-caused fires.
There are already nearly 150 active fires across the Northwest Territories, a burden that has strained resources and required reinforcement from the likes of Alaska, New Brunswick and Ontario.
Mike Westwick, a wildfire information officer covering the fire that triggered the evacuation of Behchokǫ̀, said there was “more moisture in the air today than all week,” though that only amounted to scattered showers by Saturday afternoon.
Even so, Westwick wrote, that would “provide some relief and a welcome opening to get good work done” on fire ZF015.
“However, this may come with lightning,” he added, and crews “will be watching out for the potential for new fire starts.”
Winds on Saturday were expected to continue pushing fires in the region north.
More storms are possible on Sunday or Monday, while the wind is expected to shift direction at the same time to blow from the northeast, sending fires toward the southwest – a potentially more challenging scenario.
ZF015 remains on the eastern side of Frank Channel and hasn’t reached Edzo. No further structure losses have occurred in Behchokǫ̀ since four homes were lost earlier in the week.
On Highway 3 between Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife, where the fire has burned across the road in many locations, the picture is less clear. Crews are still assessing, when they can, what has been lost, and putting protections back in place.
Highway 3 is open. Behchokǫ̀ remains closed to all but essential personnel, and residents are asked to stay away.
Meanwhile, NWT Fire said a cabin had been lost to fire ZF011 at Duncan Lake.
“As the winds have shifted, cabins in the area are at risk,” the wildfire agency stated on Friday evening.