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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.
Today’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.
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Updates appeared below, latest first. All times are MT.Live coverage has ended.
20:05 – Mike Westwick, Wildfire Information Officer, says despite challenging winds, warm temperatures, and hot spots, the fires threatening the NWT’s communities have not moved significantly closer today.
19:57 – Jennifer Young, the Emergency Management Organization information officer, says, “We are actively working on a reentry plan and more details on that will follow.” No timeline for the release of the reentry plan has been shared yet.
19:55 – The legislative assembly sits next Monday to discuss postponing the territorial election and to discuss wildfire support spending, says Minister Wawzonek.
19:48 – Corporal Matt Halstead with the RCMP says they’ve been getting a lot of calls for wellness checks for residents who stayed behind from friends and families.
“When we get those calls, we’re responding to them and trying to locate and determine whether those folks are still here in Yellowknife. If they are, we’re informing them of the risks to being here and encouraging them to leave,” he says.
19:42 – “We also want to be mindful that our evacuation costs – we’d ideally like to fit them within the federal disaster assistance program. The fire suppression costs are astronomical, so we have to figure all this out within our capacity and our means,” says Minister Wawzonek.
“But the messaging here is, no one is saying no, we’re saying let’s do some policy work so we can figure out what a good option is [to compensate people for their evacuations].”
19:38 – Public safety minister Dominic LeBlanc states: “We have approved the Northwest Territories’ request to redeploy RCMP officers from neighbouring jurisdictions to help with the wildfire response across the territory.”
19:36 – “Northwestel is mandated under CRTC to ensure the communities are up to speed in terms of their internet availability. I realize that’s different from cell service and cell availability, but some method and means of communication into those communities through a high speed download situation so that they’re up to par that will certainly improve those communications,” says Minister Wawzonek on the issue of communities losing communications and not being informed about evacuation orders and other important information.
She adds the next step is to build redundancies so there are back-up forms of communications available to residents.
19:30 – Wawzonek says a working group has been credited to ensure supply chains to small communities are intact – this will ensure food gets to places like Łútsël K’é and Gamètì.
“The last part of that is to consider whether some sort of subsidy or other offset is going to be required to ensure that people in small communities who already faced very significant food costs aren’t facing unnecessary additional costs in the circumstances,” she said.
“We are actually open and we’re working on plans to increase the number of flights available for food and supplies to go to the communities,” says Jeffrey Edison from the Department of Infrastructure.
19:15 – “This is not just a place where we reside. It is the living embodiment of our heritage, reflection of our spirit, and promise to future generations,” says Dettah Chief Edward Sangris of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
Sangris also thanks the first responders on the ground in wildfire areas, calling them guardians of the land and beacons of hope.
19:13 – “[We] will make sure that everyone that needs a place to say will have one and that everyone that needs food will have food,” Wawzonek continues. “We’re going to make sure that all of that continues no matter how long the evacuation orders last.”
19:11 – Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek says, “People are actively doing that work to ensure that publicly funded supports are designed to be fair to be reasonable and to be responsive.”
19:05 – Tonight we’ve got plenty of elected officials on the call, so prepare for long opening remarks.
19:00 – Tonight’s wildfire press conference is starting now. We’ll bring you the most important updates here right away, or you can watch CBC’s live stream.
17:05 – Update from Northwestel: For Northwestel home and small business customers from evacuated communities – please rest assured that you will receive a credit on your Northwestel bill for the period of the official evacuation order. Residents in the Beaufort Delta region will continue to receive a credit of 50 percent until service is fully restored. There is no action required from customers to receive these credits.
17:04 – Aurora College says it is experiencing issues and currently unable to make payments. You can reach Acting Fianance Manager Malcolm Gorrill at 867-777-7827.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.”
16:51 – This response just in from Public Safety Canada about federal financial supports for NWT evacuees:
“We have been working closely with the Government of the Northwest Territories since the very beginning of the fire season to ensure residents receive the support they need during this challenging time.”
“In the event of a large-scale natural disaster, the Government of Canada provides financial assistance directly to provincial and territorial governments through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program. The federal government can cover up to 90 percent of eligible costs, but provinces and territories are in full control of their recovery plans. They design, develop and deliver disaster financial assistance, deciding the amounts and types of assistance that will be provided to those that have experienced losses, and the DFAA program offers reimbursement as eligible expenses are incurred. Provinces and territories may also request advance payments or interim payments from the federal government to address early requirements of recovery and rebuild, and additional allocations for projects that include mitigative enhancements.”
16:24 – From Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green on Twitter, or X, or whatever it’s called now:
“Ecological grief is a real and profound emotional response to the loss and degradation of our natural environment. It’s okay to feel sadness, anxiety, or despair over the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss.
16:07 – Reminder that if you’re an evacuee looking for a place to stay or other supports we’ve compiled guides and are regularly updating them. If you think anything is missing, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15:45 – Ecology North says less than half of youth participants were able to attend the Young Leaders’ Summit on Climate Change 2023, which took place in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, from August 16 to 22. The organization says the evacuation of Yellowknife due to wildfires affected flights connected through the city. Yet Ecology North says for those who were able to take part, the summit was a “very memorable and impactful experience.” Participants are heading home today and tomorrow.
“It is a small miracle among a very challenging time for Denendeh, that a group of young leaders from across theNnorth could gather and make the most of being, briefly, stranded in Cambridge Bay together.”
15:30 – The SSDEC has confirmed all schools in its district are affected by the delayed start date, including schools in communities not under evacuation orders. This includes Deninu School in Fort Resolution and Łútsël K’é Dene School in Łútsël K’é.
15:27 – YK1, Yellowknife Catholic Schools, K’àlemì Dene School in Ndılǫ, and Kaw Tay Whee School in Dettah have issued an identical statement to the SSDEC and CSFTNO’s (see 15:23 update).
“Our school year will begin at a time when any student who has returned to Yellowknife can engage in person with their school, teacher and other staff. We will continue to strive to get updated information out to you every few days, even if there is not much new to share,” the education councils said.
15:23 – The South Slave Divisional Education Council (SSDEC) and La Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CFSTNO) have issued a joint statement assuring virtual learning is not being considered for their schools in Fort Smith, Hay River, and Yellowknife and said they cannot set a school start date yet.
“Like many of you, our staff left swiftly, taking only necessary items, and now reside in accommodations not conducive to providing instruction. We believe many of you find yourselves in similar circumstances and are not positioned to manage or organize instruction for your children,” said the education bodies.
They said until a safe return date is announced, they cannot predict a school start date.
We’ve inquired if Deninu School in Fort Resolution and Łútsël K’é Dene School in Łútsël K’é, which are SSDEC school but are in communities not under evacuation orders, will also have a have a delayed start date.
15:17 – We just got off the phone with finance minister Caroline Wawzonek. She said she recognizes the distress about zero financial aid for people who drove themselves out and got accommodation, and her department is hastening to “run options” to roll out more help. Ollie will have more shortly.
14:50 – The 30th Dehcho Annual Assembly, scheduled to be hosted in Nahanni Butte this year, had been cancelled due to the wildfire crisis. More follows.
14:06 – “It’s absolutely ridiculous that the people who fled Yellowknife, Hay River or other areas at risk with their own vehicles or before an evacuation order was given are now being told that their expenses won’t be covered,” said Jonathan Pedneault, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Canada, in a Tuesday afternoon news release.
“Nobody leaves their home for fun. People do so because they feel that their lives are at risk and the authorities aren’t proactive enough. Nobody should be penalized for not waiting until an evacuation order was given or for using their own vehicle. If anything, they should be rewarded for lessening the burden on the authorities,” he added, calling on the federal government to provide support to the GNWT through its Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements and free up funds to fairly support NWT residents who evacuated proactively or by vehicle.
14:02 – The territorial fire agency is moving to direct attack on the Yellowknife fire.
Direct attack is when crews take actions close to the fire itself to stop it from spreading – for instance by spraying water, applying chemicals or creating space between burned and unburned fuel to act as a control line.
Crews had previously not been able to pursue direct attack because of the fire’s intensity, Westwick said, but help from the weather and from folks in the air put crews in a safer position for direct attack.
12:02 – From the Hillhurst United Church in Calgary: private citizens have 50 open homes for people to move into, free of charge. Meals and transportation will be provided. Dogs and cats are welcome. Please go to hillhurstunitedhelps.com to be matched with one of the houses.
11:57 – Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby posted on Facebook that Northview REIT has been sending out arrears notices to NWT residents. Cabin Radio has been unable to independently verify this. Northview said they would not give out information to anyone who is not a tenant. If you are a Northview tenant and would like to provide information us please send us a message email@example.com.
11:56 – In Hay River, fire crews are arriving from Saskatchewan and Manitoba will be arriving today by air. Crews already on the ground have been expanding firebreaks and continuing essential training, such as how to operate the pump protection systems. Here’s the town’s full update.
11:49 – I just saw Ollie’s Facebook post and wanted to reshare here: if you are tagging a journalist so they see something on Facebook, we can’t see our notifications and don’t know you’ve tagged us. We think it has something to do with the Meta ban and our accounts being connected to the Cabin Radio account. If you want to make sure we see something, please email us here.
11:41 – Thanks Chloe for covering while I walked the dogs. We’ve just heard from Wood Buffalo National Park that if conditions allow, ignition operations will take place around 11am near Fort Smith south of a dozer guard south of Highway 5, starting west of Bell Rock, going to east of Fort Smith, to remove fuel when conditions are favourable so the wildfire can’t burn there later.
It’s going to be a tough day for the Fort Smith area, where “crossover conditions” are anticipated. This is when the humidity is lower than the temperature and can cause extreme fire behaviour. The forecast calls for a high of 27C and relative humidity of 22 percent. There is also the potential for a jet stream to come through, which would cause higher than forecast winds.
11:23– NWT Fire says it is highly unlikely the Ingraham Trail fire will reach the road within the next three days given winds, slight rain and firefighting efforts.
Infrared scanning showed hot areas along the southern perimeter of the fire.
The fire still poses a threat to all areas along the Ingraham Trail and surrounding lakes and rivers, according to NWT Fire.
11:19– Conditions today are for northerly winds, reaching 20-25km/h and gusting from 30-35km/h. Temperatures are expected to hit 21 degrees this afternoon, bringing the relative humidity to less than 40 percent, which could encourage greater fire activity, NWT Fire said.
North winds would push the fire south, and progression toward Yellowknife is not expected today.
Small amounts of rain overnight came with lightning.
As far as work for today, NWT Fire says helicopters and airtankers will continue hitting targets throughout the day to reduce fire intensity. Small-scale ignitions are being considered to burn off vegetation between the north and south fingers of the fire to burn off vegetation which could lead to future growth toward Yellowknife.
“With help from rain and changing wind conditions, we’re now in a safer position to direct attack,” NWT Fire said. Direct attack refers to when crews take actions close to the fire itself to stop it from spreading, for instance by spraying water, applying chemicals to the area where the fire is burning, or creating space between burned and unburned fuel to act as a control line.
“We are mobilizing the personnel and skillsets required,” NWT Fire said. “This will be a huge task – with more than 40km of a very hot fire-line, numerous hotspots, and the possibility of weather causing fire to flare up.”
The agency is evaluating the amount of work it would take to bring the fire to a mop-up and patrol stage and eliminate the fire threat to the capital. This may take a few days to do.
NWT Fire says the priority is still to build a control line to the west of Yellowknife.
10:57 – A new update from NWT Fire: The Yellowknife Fire (ZF015) is still 15km northwest of the municipal boundary at the nearest point.
“The fire is highly unlikely to reach the outskirts of Yellowknife in the next three days as the fire was held at bay with aerial support, and has now received help from rain.”
Rain over the last 72 hours has opened new opportunities for managing the fire, although the amount of rain (10-11mm) will do little to alleviate drought conditions, according to NWT Fire.
“Our fire behavior analyst estimates that it would take at least 60mm of rain over a 10 day period to reset the level of moisture in forest fuels (needles, leaves, lichens, mosses, and deep duff layers) back to a more normal seasonal level. There is very little precipitation forecast in the next week.”
NWT Fire says the latest infrared scans show that the fire remains hot on the 40km+ section of line on the east side of the fire.
10:50 – Good morning, Chloe here taking over from Sarah briefly.
10:35 – We all need a little positivity right now, and so Emily has put together a collection of shoutouts Cabin Radio has received since Saturday about some of the folks NWT residents feel deserve recognition. Previous shoutouts can be found in our formerly live coverage from August 16, 17 and 18.
9:37– More from Minister Wawzonek: “Even as the fire attack is underway, the team is evaluating the amount of work it would take to bring the fire to a mop-up stage and eliminate the fire threat to the capital. This will involve infrared scanning and a thorough on-the-ground assessment and may take a few days to do. We will let you know as soon as we have an assessment.
“At the same time, planning for an orderly re-entry has already begun but please keep in mind that there are still some residents yet to evacuate from communities that are under threat from multiple active wildfires including especially essential services personnel who may yet need to be moved out. In other words: we are still at a stage where the priority is for people to be out safely, not in.”
9:35 – If you’re in Edmonton, you can watch the Edmonton Elks play the Ottawa Redblacks on Sunday night at 5pm for free.
To claim your ticket, show your evacuee wristband or an NWT driver’s license. Tickets can be claimed all week at the Elks Team Store inside the Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre (open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), or on game day at any ticket window at Commonwealth Stadium.
“We understand that every evacuee’s primary focus is on when they can return home, but we wanted to extend the opportunity to attend Sunday’s game as our way of showing that Edmontonians are here to support our friends from the North,” said Elks Vice President of Stakeholder Relations and Gameday Allan Watt.
9:32 – “As the fire risks subside, work will begin to bring communities back online by having essential staff return first such as health care workers, government services, groceries and other supplies,” wrote Yellowknife South MLA and Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek in a Facebook post responding to everyone’s “when can we go home” questions.
“With people now scattered across western Canada, that timing will be more complex. For Yellowknife this will require that the airport be operational and that, in turn, will require adequate airport. Infrastructure estimates it could take approximately 96 hours to have the airport fully staffed and ready for commercial operations,” she said.
9:20 – No break-and-enters occurred overnight in Yellowknife and Hay River, RCMP said on Tuesday morning.
“All of the ‘suspicious’ people, our officers have encountered have been homeowners or neighbours,” RCMP said of the calls they did receive from people concerned about potential break-ins.
8:56 – Phone lines in Hay River are experiencing ongoing disruptions, RCMP say. As Northwestel continues with fibre work in the area, service may be temporarily affected.
If you can’t get through to the Hay River detachment, call the Yellowknife detachment at (867) 669-1111 and tell the dispatcher your calling about a Hay River mater. If it’s an emergency, call 911.
7:49 – Our morning show is back at 8am in video format on Ollie’s personal Facebook page (we can’t use the Cabin Radio Facebook page because of the Meta ban). Our hosts will be talking about the weirdest things people packed during the evacuations.
7:39 – It’s been a while since we’ve had an update on Jean Marie River, but the First Nation just shared some fire break photos on Facebook last night and announced cell service was back.
7:19 – I’m almost through all of my emails and we’re getting lots of messages about the GNWT saying there is no financial aid for evacuees who organized their own travel and accommodations (right now, the GNWT is saying check with your insurance company to see if you are eligible for compensation). We are continuing to pursue more answers around financial aid.
6:51 – We have a message in our inbox from Ghyslain suggesting if you evacuated by road, it’s probably a good idea to check your air filter in your vehicle. Here’s a 2018 CBC story on the topic with more information.
6:47 – And from Megan Miskiman, here’s how Michelle Tuma and Lois Lane’s daughter rescued Yellowknife pets in vodka-assisted flight.
6:41 – When do we get to go home? “When it’s safe.” But what counts as safe to the NWT’s fire crews, and how do we get the fires to that point? Our reporter Chloe Williams checked. Here’s what she found out.
6:34 – Good morning from Calgary! We’ve got some great reporting from Megan and Chloe I’ll bring you in a minute.