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Work continues to prepare fire defences on Yellowknife's western edge. Photo: Jay Bulckaert
Work continues to prepare fire defences on Yellowknife's western edge. Photo: Jay Bulckaert

As it happened: Monday updates for NWT wildfire evacuees


On this page you’ll get everything first: updates about wildfires around the NWT, information for evacuees and all of our reporting.

Yes, we said we were done with the live pages – but we know how helpful they are for providing time-stamped information all in one place, and the volume of emails we had over the weekend made clear that this is still a valuable service.

You can also read our quick summary of wildfire threat to get the latest on the fires in less than a minute of reading. And remember to bookmark our homepage for all of our coverage in one place.

Contact us:



  • We have guides to getting out, where to stay and everything else. Please, please check those thoroughly before writing to us
  • We are not the government but we will try to get you an answer if you ask us a question and we think the answer would help a sizeable number of evacuees
  • To ask a question, email us here
  • If you are offering assistance and don’t mind having details that you send us (including contact info) published, email that offer here – please also send information updates for evacuees using this link
  • To tell us about someone amazing who deserves a shoutout for what they’re doing or did, email us here
  • Send us photos and video of your experience by emailing us here

Reporters working on our continuing coverage are Ollie Williams, Emily Blake, Sarah Pruys, Megan Miskiman, Chloe Williams and Aastha Sethi. Our general manager, Andrew Goodwin, is in Yellowknife supporting efforts to build wildfire defences. If our coverage is helping and you’re able to support us, you can sign up for a small monthly donation that goes directly toward paying our staff.

Tomorrow’s morning show topic: What’s the strangest or weirdest thing you packed evacuating? Email Lekter and we’ll read out the best on the show. Watch today’s show here.

Trying to find something specific? Search this page. Here’s how to search this page on desktop and how to do it on a phone.

Updates appeared below, latest first. All times are MT. Live coverage has ended.



Current live text reporter: Ollie Williams in Fort Simpson
Thanks to Lady Slipper Lodge for hosting our Fort Simpson team!

20:01 – And with that, the press conference ends and soup is served at the lodge, with the Mackenzie River chugging along in the background and the sun setting. Have a good night, all. See you at 8am for Mornings at the Cabin!

19:56 – Edmonton is sending equipment to Yellowknife to help the fire department “in the event that the fire comes into Yellowknife.”

19:52 – There have been questions about arson concerns, the supply chain to communities and what help you get if you hitched a ride out but then need help getting back later. “If that remains an option for people to do that, we would encourage that. We’re still working through the details of the re-entry plan,” said a GNWT representative.

19:37 – Regarding the return to school from ECE’s John MacDonald:

“The circumstances are vastly different than when we were dealing with Covid … virtual learning is not a feasible solution at this time. From an education perspective, the path forward will really depend on the emergency response and the timing for when each individual community can ask its residents to return.”

19:35 – If you’re driving toward Yellowknife, you’re going to be stopped at a road block. “The City of Yellowknife is closed,” an official states.

19:34 – From Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty via Facebook, after she apparently couldn’t get onto the press conference call:



“Yesterday, we got over 10 mm [of rain] in Yellowknife itself, but only 4.7 mm on the Behchoko/Yellowknife Fire. If you have access to a ruler (or pull up your phone and get an online ruler), 4.7 mm of rain is just half of my thumbnail. For a forest that’s parched: that’s nothing. We need a LOT of rain to make a difference.

“I continue to hope that we get favourable weather – cool temperatures, winds from the east, rain – but for today, NWT Fire continues to deem the fire as a threat to Yellowknife due to the deep-burning fire. There’s still more than 40 km of hot line that they need to attack along the eastern perimeter of the fire.”

19:31 – More on deciding when people can return, from NWT Fire’s Mike Westwick:

“We’re not looking at a few days of work. We’re looking more in the context of weeks, that’s generally the message I would give. That can change due to weather and due to success on the firefighting front, and based on change in risk assessments by communities. It’s not a requirement for a fire to be ‘under control’ in order for risk to be mitigated enough for a community to return.

“With ZF015, the fact that we can move to direct attack is a really good step. The fact we’re able to use that tool – which we hadn’t been able to use for some time – is good. It provides an opportunity for us to potentially shorten that timeline. But all of these things take a massive effort. The force we are dealing with is extremely powerful. We’re doing what we can to make the timeline as short as possible given conditions. We’re making progress every day, but there’s a lot of work today.”

19:25 – Regarding how long everyone is going to be out, the GNWT again bats away a question that attempts to set a timeline. (The general message about returning has been “when it’s safe,” but anyone unsure about what that means should, I would humbly suggest, assume it could be weeks.)

19:22 – Will there be any more financial supports to help you pay as the evacuation goes on? The answer wasn’t hugely clearly but it sounded like there won’t be anything more than is already available to you, at least until people are allowed to start heading back.

19:14 – Yellowknife fire holding at 15 km and highly unlikely to reach the outskirts of Yellowknife over the next three days after recent weather and crews’ work.



19:12 – Hay River fire is eight kilometres away. Hot, dry weather expected on Tuesday and north winds. “We’re concerned by the incoming weather over the next few days,” with south winds gusting to 50 km/h forecast.

19:11 – Fort Smith – fire still four kilometres away. Fire burning deep in root systems, trees “effectively suspended above the ground.” Making things challenging with “extremely difficult days ahead” and very unsafe conditions likely. But lots of prep work done for this.

19:08 – We have articles about the return to school and how student financial assistance is working, which were just discussed (briefly).

19:08 – It’s nice to have a press conference that just dives straight into the information.

19:07 – Checkpoints are assessing whether people are essential workers before they’re allowed to drive to Fort Smith.

19:05 – 25,900 people are currently displaced, the GNWT states.

19:00 – Press conference time. Watch on the CBC. Important highlights here.

18:06 – From RCMP: “The Hay River detachment’s phones are back in service. People requiring the Hay River RCMP can now dial 867-874-1111.”



18:05 – This message for Deninu Kue band members (Fort Resolution has been largely cut off by wildfires affecting Hay River and the highway) comes via Patrick:

“Today is our first day back in the office after having the internet off all last week and not being able to access our network or phones. For band members residing in Fort Smith, Hay River and Yellowknife please email with a donation request, home address and banking information. We will be working on how to get assistance out starting on Wednesday, August 23.”

17:54 – New from Chloe: what’s happening to SFA during the evacuations.

17:39 – YKDFN is asking evacuee members to fill out a registration form.

17:36 – From the Canadian Press, a quick briefing on home insurance and some things you should know.

17:32 – GNWT press conference is coming up at 7pm as ever. We’re told there’ll be a strong education element tonight, seeing as how you all enjoyed last night’s contributions on the subject of e-learning.

16:50 – We are continuing to pursue insurance companies, a federal agency or two and some other lines of inquiry to answer the many questions coming in. It feels like a clearing-house for evacuee grievances at this kitchen table, which is exactly how we like it.

16:47 – Home Base, the Yellowknife-based organization that supports unhoused youth, evacuated to the Zama City oil and gas work camp in Alberta. Life there is “opening our eyes,” staff said. Read this fascinating report from my colleague Chloe.



15:51 – From YKDFN: “To avoid flooding of personal property, YKDFN staff will be turning off sprinklers that are currently operational outside members’ homes.”

15:15 – From Sandra:

“I want to give a huge shoutout to Tanya-Louise Bell, Mark Bell and family of Spruce Grove for collecting donations for evacuees. They are former Yellowknifers and are going above and beyond to help people displaced from the NWT fires. Thank you, Bell family of Spruce Grove, for everything!”

15:11 – We are actively pursuing suggestions that some home insurance companies are offering virtually no useful assistance compared to others. If your insurance company is leaving you feeling totally unsupported, email me with a summary of what that company told you it would and would not do, and I’ll go and ask them for clarification.

15:04 – Public housing update from the GNWT:

“Housing NWT clients in public housing will have their rent prorated for communities that have been evacuated. There will be no late fees applied to evacuees.”

Prorated means adjusted down according to how many days you were there this month, rather than you being charged the regular full sum.

In an emergency, call Housing NWT’s toll-free number: 1-844-698-4663.



14:52 – Highway 1 is likely to keep closing for short periods because wildfires for the rest of today. Here’s a more general highways update, noting that northbound travel on Highway 3 is still not a thing past Behchokǫ̀, for obvious reasons.

14:40 – Been a while since we had a photo. Here’s Iqbal and John clearing out Parker Park as Yellowknife builds up its defences.

Residents clear elements of a fire break near Parker Park on August 21, 2023. Photo: Iqbal Bhatti
Photo: Iqbal Bhatti

13:49 – Reminder, this rainbow photo gallery from the rain over Yellowknife last night is as peaceful as our coverage gets right now. Wring every last drop of happy out of it please.

13:45 – We continue to shovel info into our evac supports pages and we’re getting through as many of your questions as we humanly can in the inbox. Please check the guides, linked above, if you need anything!

13:34 – From the North Slave Métis Alliance:

“The North Slave Métis Alliance is providing $500 per forest fire-affected member to assist during this forest fire situation. All affected members are to contact and provide your banking information for direct deposit to your account if all possible. Members not having the direct deposit service may have to wait until cheques can be provided to them.”

13:14 – More from Emily on the likely delay to the territorial election and authorization of emergency spending on wildfire costs.

13:05 – New from United Way NWT:



“All funds received to date have been allocated to critical requests, meaning that the
United Way NWT has an urgent need for more donations to support evacuees.” To donate, click here. More follows.

12:55 – Lots of people asking about their evacuee hotel accommodation. Here’s an example question I just got: “Post on FB: All Alberta hotel accommodations & other services are extended from Aug 24 to Sept 5. Is this a confirmed info?”

If you have a hotel room through an Alberta evac centre, you have got that room till you get to go home. There’s no specific September 5 date so ignore anything like that, nobody knows when we are going back – but that room stays yours.

From the GNWT last night:

“If you have registered through an Alberta evacuation centre and are being accommodated in a hotel, this arrangement will continue until your re-entry is reorganized,” said Jennifer Young, information officer with the territory’s Emergency Management Organization. “There is no five-day cut-off as we have seen suggested on social media.”

12:50 – Praise for Derrick at Sutherland Drugs in Yellowknife: “He stayed behind and is running the pharmacy on his own. He is working extremely long hours with no breaks. There are many people in YK and other communities that are relying on him for health care, prescriptions, and much more. If there is anyone in town who can help him, he needs it.”

12:49 – Fort Smith update from Parks Canada:

“Today, the forecast calls for a high of 26C and a relative humidity of 24-28 percent. Winds are expected to come from the west-southwest at 10 km/h, gusting up to 20-25 km/h. Tomorrow, the forecast calls for a high of 27C and a relative humidity of 20-23 percent.



“Crossover conditions are anticipated for tomorrow. Crossover occurs when the humidity is lower than the temperature. This causes extreme fire behaviour and is extremely unsafe for people to be around.

“Winds are expected to come from the southwest at 10-15km/h, gusting up to 20-25 km/h. Given the forecast, this could be an extreme fire behaviour day.”

12:42 – I now have one direct report from a Yellowknife resident of having their licence plate stolen while in Alberta (Spruce Grove in this instance), so you’re aware.

12:40 – Various people have emailed about Air Canada flights. From Air Canada direct to us just now:

“Air Canada has in place a flexible goodwill policy for people who had travel plans to/from Yellowknife (eg people who were looking to fly up to visit or Yellowknifers who had plans to fly from Yellowknife elsewhere) to change their travel to another time, or to obtain a full refund due to the evacuation in place. The details are posted on the website.”

12:36 – Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine just stopped in for a chat, describing the need to help people figure out accommodation and food wherever they may be.

(The chief also noted that Yellowknife’s rain pretty-much directly followed a Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation water ceremony. And I have to say the drum dance here last night was very, very soothing on the soul.)

12:20 – When I say “set to be delayed,” it sounds like all of those involved – chief electoral officer, MLAs, and I’m sure candidates – want that to happen, but it involves passing legislation to get it delayed. And there’s no date yet for when a rearranged one might happen.



“In the current circumstances, there are a number of ridings where we would not be in a position to safely proceed on September 4,” said chief electoral officer Stephen Dunbar in a press release.

12:16 – The territorial election is set to be delayed. More follows.

11:57 – From RCMP: “There were no notable events to report in the evacuated communities overnight. Calls for service in Yellowknife continue to relate to suspicious persons. There were no confirmed break-and-enters overnight and officers continue to patrol the City of Yellowknife in increased numbers.”

11:54 – From Mindy: “The folks in Meander River were amazing. We spent the first night (Thursday for us) in the school gym on comfortable cots. They had made homemade bannock and homemade blueberry jam. They made us feel so welcome: clean towels for a shower and so much kindness. Mahsi cho to the people in Meander River, a place we had driven past many times but had not stopped in. We are so grateful.”

While we’re at it, Fort Simpson’s evac centre is really impressive. They had Top Gun playing at movie night last night, there are meals and snacks (homemade cupcakes!), things for kids, healthcare products – I know it is not easy to pull this stuff together in small communities and the Simpson evac centre was way better than it had any right to be. Really grateful.

11:50 – Off the phone to RBC. Spencer, I owe you a beverage at some point because you were entirely correct, that took less than 15 minutes (they had a dedicated option on the phone menu) and they’re helping out with living expenses.

To everyone else like me who does have home insurance but is too slammed by this whole situation to phone… I feel much better after making that call.

11:34 – OK nobody phone RBC for 10 minutes because I wanna quickly get through and see about this home insurance malarkey.



11:26 – More on the GNWT saying online learning is not being explored and the NWT Teachers’ Association saying you’re damned right it isn’t.

11:17 – The GNWT says online learning is “not being pursued” as an option right now. More follows.

11:12 – From Spencer: “I just got off the phone with my home insurance broker, RBC, and was told we are eligible for $2,500 living allowance. No receipts and no questions asked. It took 15 minutes!”

If you have not got to that yet, you’re not alone. Neither have I. I know I need to. (I just did the classic “babe can you call our insurance?” attempt at delegation across the room.)

11:10 – I want you to know that our team had a quick but really good news meeting this morning. We have Emily, Chloe and Megan and I working for you today with Sarah and Aastha rested. We are having to switch up how we work on the fly but everyone is doing an amazing job of adapting and we’re chasing down answers on six or seven different fronts for you. Watch this space.

Note that we are still very much in operational mode, so the majority of our reporting will be news-you-can-use for now rather than investigative journalism, but we are doing as much of that as we can and also trying to tell stories of bravery and heroism where able.

10:47 – Thanks to the rain and firefighting efforts, ZF015 is now “highly unlikely to reach the outskirts of Yellowknife in the next three days.”

(This does not mean you get to go home any time soon. We all have no idea how long this is going on for, but until our fire crews are certain that fire isn’t becoming a threat, I can’t imagine we’re heading home.)



10:46 – Yellowknife wildfire update: lots of rain lately, crews “now in a position to pursue direct attack.” I have visions of the Battle of Hoth, let’s hope they can tie a rope around this wildfire’s legs and bring it down.

10:43 – NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, in a fresh news release, calls on the federal government to commit to financially assisting the NWT, saying residents “should not have to fend for themselves.”

10:42 – Sorry, that’s less new than I thought, it was just buried on an ECE Facebook page and only just reshared by the main GNWT Facebook page.

It would really help if government agencies did not rely on their many small corners of Facebook to communicate information. Please, please send it to reporters too. We are not refreshing all of your Facebook pages constantly. (Note: some agencies do this really well, and to them, thank you!)

10:38 – New from the GNWT regarding schools:

“As many residents in the NWT are under evacuation orders, this will likely interrupt the start of the 2023-24 school year in many communities. The safety of students, staff and families is the priority.

“When it is safe to return, it will be up to education bodies to decide when each school and community will start school. If your community has been evacuated, your education body will keep you posted on school start dates.

“If your community has NOT been evacuated, there will likely be no changes to the start of school. However, please follow guidance from your education body.”



10:15 – Some fire maps seem to have been struggling a little over the past day or two with data issues. The NRCan map looks good to me – go here then under the Overlays menu, select Fire Perimeter Estimate and Fire M3 Hotspots.

10:02 – Not to overdo this but Mike at Lady Slipper Lodge just put a full cooked breakfast on this table for me and I have now sobbed openly into some eggs.

9:40 – New from Emily: take a look at photos of how various NWT communities are working hard to defend against oncoming fires. So much amazing work.

9:32 – Speaking of what you packed when evacuating, how many pairs of underwear did you pack? This number seems to be a good indicator of how much of an optimist you are. I packed eight. Lowest number at this table: four.

9:18 – What are the strangest or weirdest things you packed when evacuating? That’ll be on our morning show tomorrow from 8am. Email Lekter with your oddest choices.

9:13 – We have a statement from the president of the NWT Teachers’ Association addressing the premier’s comments about e-learning last night.

“The education system cannot ‘pivot’ back to virtual learning. The premier’s comments were deeply concerning,” is the opening line. More to follow shortly.

9:09 – The Tłı̨chǫ Government just posted this list of contacts for Tłı̨chǫ evacuee support.



8:44 – OK, I’m back! The show’s over. To get 40 minutes of information plus semi-relaxing content, go check it out. It’ll be on our podcast soon too.

7:54 – We’re getting ready to go live in our first Mornings at the Cabin video show on my profile. Stand by, on air in five.

7:39 – The premier’s comments about a possible return to e-learning last night have done a number on our inbox. I suspect the premier might have been a little off-the-cuff in those remarks. There is more coverage from the CBC here and we have more coming this morning. I realize parents are quite bored of losing their minds over disrupted education at this point so we’ll get clarity as soon as there is any. (I also pity ECE and the school boards on this front. Strength to anyone whose job it is to figure this out.)

7:36 – The live text won’t be quite so minute-by-minute today (he said, writing three times in five minutes). The idea is to bring it back down to a slightly less frantic pace of pushing out information, for all of our sakes. But obviously, the moment anything important happens, it appears here.

And there will still be nonsense. We’re clinging to that nonsense like a life raft.

7:32 – Well, the live text software broke again inside half an hour so I think I can conclude that experiment. We’ve switched back to the old-school version (which seemed to work well enough last week).

7:31 – It warms my heart that when a double rainbow appears, everyone left in Yellowknife – essential workers, fire break crews, nomadic types unbothered by the mortal minutiae of a blanket evacuation order – sends a photo to Cabin Radio. The gallery does look great.

Photo: Submitted

7:20 – We have a ton of questions to try to answer today. 



Some really good ones around what happens to your utility bills while you’re gone, the continuing quest for financial supports (what happens to self-employed people is a new question on our radar), how you get support if your travel was disrupted and you can’t get ticket refunds, whether student financial assistance is going to appear on time, and so on and so on.

If you have a question, please let us know but only if you cannot find the answer in our guides (linked above) or anywhere else, and please look very closely first. We are a small team and our question-asking capacity is finite, but we’ll do what we can.

7:10 – Coming up on my own Facebook profile (can’t use Cabin Radio’s because of the Meta ban) at 8am: Mornings at the Cabin! Our morning show is switching to live video – come join me, Wheeler, Lekter, Megan and Shannon. Let’s try to stay together even though we’re all so far apart.

We’ll be broadcasting at 8am each weekday with a slightly different cast each day, and we’ll try to reflect the experience of everyone in the various host communities as best we can. It’ll be as much of a therapeutic space as we can make it.

7:01 – Hello from the kitchen table of Lady Slipper Lodge in Fort Simpson. How’s everybody doing?