A file photo shows the river opening out to the lake near Kakisa.
A wildfire-related evacuation order was issued for the small NWT community of Kakisa on Thursday morning, but how many residents actually left is not clear.
When an evacuation order is issued, residents of a community are told they are at risk and must leave immediately.
But many of the few dozen residents of Kakisa have not yet evacuated, according to Trisha Landry, who drove to the community to check up on them.
“They are all safe at home,” she said, adding residents had seen the evacuation order on social media but received no information otherwise.
Residents of the community were understood not to perceive an immediate threat, and to what extent the fire was now more of a danger to Kakisa remained unclear.
The order was issued at a time when NWT government resources were stretched to and beyond their limit, with Yellowknife, the territorial capital, evacuating at the same time. Five other NWT communities have been evacuated in the past week.
Kakisa is one of the communities affected by a days-long communications blackout brought on by wildfire damage to the NWT’s telecoms infrastructure, meaning internet access was hard to come by and there was no cell or landline service.
“I can tell you that nobody went to the community to inform them they were being evacuated,” said Kim Wickholm, whose daughter lives in Kakisa. “She didn’t know, because they have no way of communication.”
The NWT government posted the evacuation order on Facebook, which is where Wickholm says her daughter and other community members found out about the evacuation. “She only found out when I posted on social media,” she said.
The fire threatening Kakisa is the same one ultimately responsible for Hay River’s evacuation order on Sunday. The huge fire has menaced both communities as the wind drove it in different directions.
“Heavy equipment will be focusing on tightlining the fire on the west side closer to Kakisa,” NWT Fire stated on Thursday.
“Crews will also be confirming that the fire measures in place in Kakisa are still working.”
Environment minister Shane Thompson said on Friday the military were heading to the Kakisa fire “to support the firefighting efforts for the fire that is threatening the community.”