A GNWT map shows kilometre markers between Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife. Kilometres 284 to 306 were placed on evacuation alert late on Thursday.
Residents in the Boundary Creek area of Highway 3 were placed on evacuation alert late on Thursday over “potential wildfire progression to the east” on Friday and Saturday.
The alert affects anyone with a home or cabin between kilometre markers 284 and 306 on the highway, a section of road roughly halfway between Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife.
Most (but not all) Behchokǫ̀ residents were only just allowed home, 10 days after an evacuation order triggered by the same wildfire, ZF015. They remain on evacuation alert and are told to be ready to leave at an hour’s notice if required.
But this fresh alert is at the other end of the fire, and represents an acknowledgement from officials that ZF015 is likely to press east toward Yellowknife in the days ahead.
While authorities have repeatedly stressed that Yellowknife is not in immediate danger, an update late on Thursday from NWT Fire made the agency’s number-one concern perfectly clear.
“Tomorrow, we will be hitting this fire with as much air tanker action as possible to attempt to slow its progression” toward Yellowknife, NWT Fire wrote in an email.
“This is our priority tomorrow as the fire is pushed east.”
The agency expects Friday winds gusting up to 30 km/h to send the fire in that general direction, with the risk of thunderstorm cells that, while they could bring a little rain, also tend to whip up stronger winds.
“Hot temperatures continue. These conditions, along with the expected progression of the fire, may make it unsafe for crews to work the east end of the fire directly,” NWT Fire stated.
Residents in the Boundary Creek area were told: “With strong, northwesterly winds and the current state of the fire, this wildfire has the potential to move up to 20 km by the end of Saturday. We will be doing everything possible to prevent this. However, people must be ready to leave on short notice.”
NWT Fire is expected to issue multiple updates on Friday as the fire’s progress is tracked.
ZF015 has had a quiet week since destroying 15 structures along Highway 3 and four homes in Behchokǫ̀, helped by weekend rain and favourable wind conditions, but officials had been predicting for days that the weather would grow increasingly less helpful.