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Do not return to Fort Smith, leaders urge

A photo of fire fighting efforts posted to Wood Buffalo National Park's Facebook page on August 16, 2023.


Leaders in Fort Smith are reminding residents it’s still unsafe to return home as the town’s evacuation order enters its second week.

“Please stay away from the community,” Councillor Kevin Campbell said, sharing a message from the town, Salt River First Nation, and Fort Smith Métis Council.

“If you return, you’re putting your life and other lives in extreme danger.”

Campbell added there are limited services available in town, and those services are focused on supporting firefighters.



He said officials currently estimate a delay of four weeks before residents can return, and the Town of Fort Smith will provide updates on its Facebook page.

Following the publication of this article, territorial officials contacted Cabin Radio stating that a four-week estimate for return was “wildly inaccurate.” Officials acknowledged, though, it will likely be weeks before the evacuation order is lifted.

In a Sunday morning update, Parks Canada said the wildfire complex previously referred to as fires 7, MNZ003 and SS069 has burned 415,420 hectares. It is burning roughly four kilometres south of Fort Smith and six kilometres south of Fort Fitzgerald.

Parks Canada said while the fire has seen little growth in recent days due to wind conditions, scattered showers and cooler temperatures, that is forecast to change on Sunday night. The coming week is expected to bring southerly winds and warm, dry conditions that could increase fire behaviour and smoke.

Smith said on Sunday the fire was coming in at a 90-degree angle to fire stops.

“It is very smoky and foggy in the Town of Fort Smith,” Campbell said. “The winds have shifted from the south, pushing the fire towards the community. So it’s very extreme today.”