An Alaskan firefighter drafted in to help fight fire ZF015. Photo: GNWT
The Northwest Territories wildfire agency says a wildfire that “sprung up” between Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀ on Tuesday is now under control.
NWT Fire said crews worked quickly to attack the lightning-caused wildfire, labelled ZF079, which began burning approximately 20 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife and less than a kilometre away from Highway 3. It said the highway remains open and there is no threat to the city.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, crews began a direct attack on the east side of an out-of-control wildfire, labelled ZF015, burning in and near Behchokǫ̀. NWT Fire said that means “crews will be laying hose and hitting the eastern perimeter with water to slow its progress.”
Wildfire ZF015 has burned at least 113,097 hectares so far and destroyed 19 structures, including four homes in Rae.
The wildfire agency said in an update on Wednesday the Behchokǫ̀ fire has seen more activity over the past 24 hours and has moved slightly east. It is now burning around 43 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife, compared to 45 kilometres on Tuesday. It is still burning four kilometres east of Edzo, where residents were allowed to return on Monday, and has not crossed Frank Channel.
NWT Fire said Yellowknife is not currently at risk and crews are working to keep it that way. They have completed a fire retardant line from Great Slave Lake north to areas previously burned in 2014 and are planning an ignition operation to burn off vegetation between the wildfire and the city.
Crews are also working to secure a perimeter around Rae as part of efforts to make it safe for residents return, and to cool down hotspots near Frank Channel.
The wildfire agency said high temperatures and no precipitation on Wednesday are expected to lead to greater fire activity. It said, however, that east-northeast winds will likely push the wildfire toward areas that have already been burned.
“This will be a good day to prepare for tougher days ahead,” the update states.