A file photo of RCMP vehicles outside the Yellowknife detachment. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
RCMP in Yellowknife have told non-essential civilian staff and the families of members that they should “pre-emptively evacuate” on Wednesday morning.
A wildfire is 16 kilometres to the west of Yellowknife and expected to get closer as winds push it east throughout the day. An evacuation order is in place along the highway into the city – the only highway connecting Yellowknife to the rest of Canada – and western neighbourhoods within the municipality are on evacuation alert.
In an email to staff seen by Cabin Radio, RCMP management said non-essential public service employees and civilian members should leave before authorities formally declare an evacuation, and made the same recommendation for members’ families.
“I can confirm that the message was sent out last night. I would categorize this advice as precautionary and for those who wish to leave,” Cpl Matt Halstead, a spokesperson, told Cabin Radio on Wednesday morning.
“Like all Yellowknifers, there has been concern amongst our families and staff. The message was intended to support those who wish to leave until the situation is resolved.
“RCMP officers and certain essential civilian personnel are duty bound to remain at their posts during an evacuation order (at least initially) and having families and non-essential staff who wish to leave, supported in doing so, will allow our essential staff to be focused on the tasks at hand.”
Halstead said RCMP have also “begun preparing the preservation of the investigative files and exhibits for ongoing investigations,” and non-uniformed RCMP personnel are being switched “into uniformed capacity in the event that an evacuation order for parts of city is issued.”
Halstead stressed that RCMP members won’t get to go home and look after their families if an evacuation order is given.
“Our focus will be on the people in the city and supporting the tasks related to the evacuation. Allowing us to square away our families now, whether that’s having them leave or hunker down, will keep us from worrying as our duties continue,” he wrote.