A map shows the burn area and satellite hot-spots associated with a fire outside Fort Smith the afternoon of August 14, 2023.
Fort Smith’s first responders are temporarily relocating their operations bases to Fort Chipewyan and Salt Mountain as a wildfire is expected to reach the town Monday night.
“There have been significant impacts to the area’s power supply, and the ability to continue to treat potable water, maintain communication lines, and healthcare services is no longer sustainable,” a Monday afternoon update from Parks Canada, Alberta Wildfire, Fort Smith and the NWT government states. “This makes it very difficult for first responders to do their jobs safely.”
This includes first responders from Parks Canada, Alberta Wildfire, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and the municipality of Fort Smith.
Fire 7 – also called SS069 or MNZ003 – has “the potential to continue to exhibit extreme fire behaviour over the next 48 hours,” the update stated, putting both Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald at risk. It added the wildfire is expected to reach the community by 8 pm Monday.
The update stated all agencies “will keep a small complement of critical resources” in Fort Chipewyan and Salt Mountain to help support ignition operations, structural protection, and containment. All non-essential personnel are being evacuated.
“One of the last remaining tactics for protecting the community are landscape-level ignition operations where fire specialists bring the fire to large holding features including Highway 5, dozer guards, and the airport lands,” the update continued.
“In order to do this safely, we need to ensure that no one remains in the vicinity of the communities.”
Meanwhile, the NWT Health and Social Services authority said Monday afternoon the Fort Smith Health Centre would be closed until further notice as community evacuation by air continues.
The authority said mobile paramedic service is being planned to address basic health needs in Fort Smith and for first responders until service is restored at the health centre.