An airtanker drops water over the east end of wildfire ZF015 near Behchokǫ̀ on August 2, 2023. Photo: GNWT
The NWT’s wildfire agency says crews are prioritizing work on a significant breach of the retardant line east of a wildfire burning toward Yellowknife.
NWT Fire first reported “minor breaches” on Sunday night as strong winds pushed wildfire ZF015 eastward, ordering residents of Boundary Creek to evacuate.
In an update on Monday morning, the agency said the breach was now “significant” and continued strong northwest winds were expected to cause “serious challenges” to firefighting efforts.
NWT Fire said the out-of-control wildfire is now burning within three to 3.5 kilometres of Boundary Creek and 30 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife at its nearest point, five kilometres closer than it had been a day earlier.
Yellowknife, Ndılǫ and Dettah are not currently at threat from wildfire ZF015, the agency said, but residents should be prepared if the situation changes. Behchokǫ̀ is said to be at very low risk due to the significant area already burned around the community, along with the establishment of a strong perimeter.
NWT Fire said air tankers and helicopters will hit the east side of the fire with “as many missions as possible” to slow its growth. The City of Yellowknife is also working to to increase protections within its boundary.
Meanwhile, the agency said on Monday that Dettah wildfire ZF085 had grown significantly to the east but was still burning 29 kilometres southeast of Dettah and seven killometres south of Jennejohn Lake.
NWT Fire said teams have assessed and added sprinklers to numerous cabins to the east of the fire.
An ignition operation planned for Monday has been cancelled but NWT Fire said it could go ahead in the coming days. Anyone with cabins on Jennejohn Lake, Mason Lake, Defeat Lake and other waterways in the area is advised to prepare to leave on short notice.
Finally, NWT Fire said on Monday that Ingraham Trail wildfire ZF011 is burning 17 kilometres north of the Ingraham Trail, nine kilometres north of Prelude Lake, 10 kilometres northeast of Prosperous Lake, and nine kilometres north of River Lake.
Home and cabin owners on the north shores of Propserous Lake and Prelude Lake and all of River Lake were ordered to evacuate on Sunday.
Wildfire ZF011 has so far destroyed three structures. The wildfire agency said residents on the Ingraham Trail are not at immediate risk but cabins near Duncan Lake, Neck Lake, Island Lake, River Lake, and on the north side of Prosperous Lake and Prelude Lake may be.
NWT Fire said structure protection is under way. Air tankers and helicopters were able to complete few drops on Sunday due to heavy smoke.