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Kakisa on evacuation alert as fire ‘overwhelms efforts’

Wildfire SS052's burn area and satellite hot-spots, southeast of Kakisa, as of August 8, 2023.
Wildfire SS052's burn area and satellite hot-spots, southeast of Kakisa, as of August 8, 2023.


Strong winds from the southeast “overwhelmed firefighting efforts” outside Kakisa on Tuesday and triggered an evacuation alert for the community, NWT Fire says.

Fire SS052 behaved in a “highly unusual” manner by burning through a burn area left behind by a 2014 wildfire, the agency reported.

Firefighters ordinarily rely on such recent burn areas to help keep active fires contained, as they are thought to contain comparatively little fuel compared to areas that haven’t burned in a long time.

In this instance, SS052’s contentment to plow through a nine-year-old burn area is “a sign of the extreme conditions and drought being faced right now,” NWT Fire stated on Tuesday evening.



Residents of Kakisa, population 36, are being told to prepare for a possible evacuation.

SS052 was burning around 17 km southeast of the community as of Tuesday evening.

While the latest update from NWT Fire stated there is no current threat to either Kakisa or Enterprise, the NWT Alert system declared an evacuation alert for the community shortly after 5pm on Tuesday.

An evacuation alert is the stage before an evacuation order. Residents are told to be ready to leave at short notice.



“Crews were forced to pull back from the fire for safety reasons today,” NWT Fire stated, adding the fire had moved nearly 18 km closer to Kakisa in the space of a day.

“The fire is not expected to reach Kakisa tonight. However, there is risk to the community in the coming days as southeast winds are expected to continue,” the agency added.

“We will continue to assess this risk and communicate new information as soon as we have it.”

Air tankers are working on the fire throughout the evening, but fire crews said they could not safely attack the head of the fire.

“We will be reassessing our plans for this fire in light of these developments,” NWT Fire stated.

Kakisa is the fourth South Slave community to be forced into some form of action by an approaching wildfire.

Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation were both placed under evacuation orders in May, while Fort Smith is under an ongoing evacuation notice – one stage earlier than evacuation alert, cautioning residents to be ready in case conditions worsen.