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Guide to evacuating for NWT communities

Big River gas station in Fort Providence. Photo: Brad Collicott

Nearly 70 percent of NWT residents are affected by evacuation orders due to wildfires.

Orders remain in place for Yellowknife, Ndılǫ, Dettah, Fort Smith, Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Enterprise, and Kakisa, as well as other areas. Leaders say it is unsafe to return to any of these communities as wildfires continue to pose a threat.

On this page is a list of information and resources we have found so far related to evacuating by air or road, as well as remaining services in Yellowknife. We are working to keep this page up to date as the situation across the terrritory changes.

This list is not exhaustive. If you know of a resource we’re missing, email our team to let us know.

We have a separate page for guidance on evacuation centres and places to stay. We also have a guide on financial assistance and other supports.

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Facebook pages where you can find information and supports for NWT evacuees include: Yellowknife and area evacueesNWT wildfires safety checkYellowknife evacuees in Fort Providence, and Hay River and (formerly) Behchokǫ̀ evacueesHay River Helps, and Fort Smith and NWT evacuee supports in Fort McMurray. Information and questions are also being shared on Yellowknife’s Rant and Raves page.

Information for anyone evacuating

There is a lot of information, including about reception centres and supports, on the GNWT’s public safety page. The GNWT has also started an updates page.

All evacuees are asked to fill out the GNWT Evacuee Registration Form – whether you are evacuating via road or plane. Information about transportation by land and air can be found on the GNWT’s website.

If you’re struggling with what to pack for evacuation, here’s a list of what the GNWT recommends you bring. If you’re driving, make sure you have a safety kit in your car as well. Important reminder: if your ID doesn’t have your current address on it, bring an official document with you that includes your name and current address, along with your photo ID.

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If you have questions about evacuation, the territory recommends calling 8-1-1 in territory, or 1-844-259-1793 out of territory.

Evacuating by road

For all evacuees travelling by road, Alberta Road Reports states the following: If you or anyone you know requires roadside assistance, please contact LaPraire Works at 1-800-828-3908; Tow truck, re-fuel, mechanical and tire repair services are available. (Note this number has been updated from the previously reported number, 1-800-826-3908.)

The GNWT has urged people leaving by road to carpool if possible.

The Department of Infrastructure

Here’s what we know about places to get gas along the way.

In Fort Providence:

  • Big River Service Centre has gas and other supplies for road travellers

In Steen River:

  • The fuel depot closed at 9pm on August 19

In Meander River:

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  • Meander gas station has been staying open until 11pm. Make sure you have enough gas to get from Fort Providence to High Level if you plan on crossing the border after 11pm

In High Level:

  • NWT evacuees can get free gas at UFA in High Level. The Town of High Level has an account with UFA and is covering fuel for anyone with an NWT license plate

In Manning:

  • Platinum Petroleum in Manning is staying open until 8pm for evacuees passing through who might not have enough gas to get to Peace River. After 8pm, they are available if you call 780-928-5067 or 780-926-0467 for diesel, dyed diesel and gas

In Fort Simpson:

  • The Liard Ferry has resumed regular hours

Evacuating by air

Anyone who needs a flight out of Yellowknife can either call 867-444-0115 to register for the next flight, or go to the air evacuation registration centre at Sir. John Franklin. It will be open daily from 9am to 9pm.

Anyone needing a ride to the registration centre call 867-444-0115 to arrange pick-up.

On Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, pets should be crated whenever possible, according to the GNWT. If no crates are available, cats must be harnessed, dogs must be leashed and other pets must be contained in appropriate cages. Pets must be held as close as possible at all times.

Resources for people still in Yellowknife

Residents who are sheltering in place with pets can camp at the Old Town Parking Lot and Rotary Park, according to the territory.

Limited services remain in place to support essential workers.

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In a comment on a Facebook post, Yellowknife vet Dr Michelle Tuma confirmed that she, along with the NWTSPCA and Veterinarians Without Borders, is working on a plan for pets left behind.

Edmonton-based animal welfare organizations are working with air carriers to ship donated pet carriers and kennels to Yellowknife, although firefighting cargo will take priority. The carriers are reported to have arrived around 5pm on Thursday. The donated carriers include lots of smaller ones for cats, and even a few for hamsters and guinea pigs. Some pet food will also be available. Vets Without Borders volunteers will be picking up the crates but it’s still unclear how they’ll be distributed.

A Facebook page dedicated to helping Yellowknife residents evacuating with pets has been created.