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Dettah wildfire prep ‘nothing to worry about,’ First Nation says

A fire break outside Dettah on August 10, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio


The Yellowknives Dene First Nation sought to reassure residents as preparations were made for the possibility that a wildfire could trouble the community.

Fire ZF085 has been steadily closing the gap to Dettah from the southeast over the past week, and is responsible for much of the smoke smothering Dettah, Ndılǫ and Yellowknife over the same period.

Those communities are “not currently at risk,” NWT Fire reported on Thursday evening, at which point ZF085 was 29 km southeast of Dettah, along the south shore of Defeat Lake.

Pumps draw water from Great Slave Lake to power sprinklers in Dettah on August 10, 2023. Emily Blake/Cabin Radio

“If you see heavy equipment in Dettah, we are getting precautionary action in Dettah,” the Yellowknives Dene First Nation wrote online. “Nothing to worry about anything at the moment.”



NWT Fire expects more southeast winds on Friday that will continue to gradually push the fire in Dettah’s direction. Heavy smoke is expected to continue, including ash over Yellowknife, Dettah and the Ingraham Trail.

Sprinkler lines are being established in Dettah and what the territory’s wildfire agency called a “high-volume water protection system” will arrive in the community on Friday.

The “number-one priority is working with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to prepare protections for Dettah,” the wildfire agency wrote.

“The fire has progressed further to the southwest end of Defeat Lake. Cabins are at risk. The fire did not reach the south shore of Jennejohn Lake. This remains a possibility in the coming days.



“Cabin owners at the north end of Defeat Lake and Jennejohn Lake are strongly reminded to take firesmart actions now, so long as it is safe. Set up sprinklers and test them, and have a plan to leave the area immediately to prepare for the potential of wildfire approaching.”

NWT Fire extended that firesmarting advice to “everyone with homes, cabins, or camps in forested areas” around Yellowknife. “Take steps now” if safe to do so, the agency urged late on Thursday.

Wildfires around Yellowknife as of Friday morning.
Wildfires around Yellowknife as of Friday morning. Check our fire map for more detail.

Alongside ZF085 to the southeast, Yellowknife and its vicinity are also being menaced by ZF015 to the west and ZF011 to the north.

ZF011, the Ingraham Trail fire, has reached the northeastern edge of Neck Lake. It’s just over 10 km from Prelude and Prosperous lakes. Three structures have so far been lost to the fire.

“This is extremely unfortunate, but a reality of the extraordinary wildfires we are facing this year,” NWT Fire wrote, adding: “Dozens of structures have been saved so far as a result of efforts both by individuals and the team responding.”

Fire ZF015, the Behchokǫ̀ fire, remains 35 km west of Yellowknife at its closest point. No new losses of cabins or homes were reported on Thursday, and the fire is currently no threat to any community.

A purposely set fire earlier this week, designed to burn off fuel and disrupt ZF015’s route east to Yellowknife, went to plan, NWT Fire said.