Fire ZF015 is seen from the highway on August 4, 2023. Photo: GNWT
The City of Yellowknife has issued an evacuation alert for three areas in the municipality due to potential threats from a wildfire burning to the west.
On Tuesday shortly before 7pm, the city issued the evacuation alert for residents in the Kam Lake Industrial Area and the Grace Lake neighbourhood, as well as the Engle Business District.
The city initially listed Kam Lake before a revised alert stated the Kam Lake Industrial Area. Hall Crescent is not included, the city clarified.
No alert was sent to cell phones, Mayor Rebecca Alty said during a press conference Tuesday night. The alert was provided by email to news organizations, posted on the city’s Facebook page, and in an item on the news page of the city’s website.
Alty said if the alert is upgraded to an evacuation order people will receive notice on their phones.
City Hall said there is a “real potential threat to public safety” from wildfire ZF015, which NWT Fire said was burning 20 kilometres northwest of Yellowknife at its closest point shortly before noon on Tuesday. The agency said the wildfire is not expected to reach the city in the coming days and wind changes forecast for Thursday would slow its growth to the east.
In an update at 9:20 pm, NWT Fire said the wildfire was burning 16 kilometres from Yellowknife and the city and fire crews were doing “everything possible” to slow its spread.
Both Alty and Premier Caroline Cochrane said this is the first time they are aware of an evacuation alert being issued for Yellowknife. Cochrane said, however, she had heard stories from her father and “old timers” of wildfires in the Yellowknife area.
Wildfire information officer Mike Westwick added there is “very little fire history” in the area where wildfire ZF015 is burning, meaning there is more fuel built up which can cause fires to burn hotter and stronger.
The city said residents will be given as much notice as possible before evacuation is required, but residents should be prepared to leave on short notice. It said residents should wait until an evacuation order is issued before leaving.
The city advised those living in affected areas to pack essential items, locate all family members and designate a meeting area outside the evacuation area if the alert is upgraded to an order, and arrange transportation and accommodation for household members and pets if possible.