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As it happened: Thursday updates for NWT wildfire evacuees

Yellowknife on the evening of August 23, 2023. Photo: Nadine MacDonald
Yellowknife on the evening of August 23, 2023. Photo: Nadine MacDonald


Fires being held outside multiple NWT communities are by no means out, the territory says, warning people they can be fined or even jailed if they try to beat the roadblocks and head home.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of evacuees remain spread across Alberta and beyond, many waiting for more news of financial supports to get them through their open-ended stay.

On this page, we’ll have live updates throughout Thursday as the NWT’s wildfire crisis evolves.

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, Aastha Sethi, Simona Rosenfield, Bill Braden and Hannah Paulson. 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.

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.

Live text reporter: Sarah Pruys in Calgary.
Thanks to Lady Slipper Lodge for hosting our Fort Simpson team!

17:26 – Since there’s no press conference tonight, we’re going to wrap up this live early. We’ll be back here tomorrow bright and early!

17:11 – A bit more information on the DMV – you can renew, replace or cancel a vehicle registration online but if you’re registering a vehicle for the first time, or transferring a registration, you need to email for further instructions. (The GNWT says to expect a slight delay because of the likely high volume of traffic to that email address.)

16:53 – As of Thursday afternoon, Canada post had “red alerts” in place for Yellowknife, Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, Hay River and Ulukhaktok in the NWT, as well as Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk, Kugluktuk and Tayloak in Nunavut due to impacts from wildfires. That means mail delivery remains suspended for those locations. More on what’s happening with mail for evacuees from Emily here.

16:49 – The GNWT says residents can get a 90-day extension for general identification cards, driver’s licences and vehicle registrations that have been lost, expired, or will expire while they are out of the territory due to wildfire evacuation. Evacuees can contact the registrar of motor vehicles at

16:48 – More from my colleague Simona as Northview, the North’s dominant landlord, says it will prorate August and September rent for Yellowknife evacuees, some already in their second week away from home.

16:06 – The North Pointe Community Church in Edmonton will be hosting a free lunch for NWT evacuees on Sunday at 12pm. The address is 14025 167th Ave NW.



16:02 – The Explorer Hotel is operating as an essential service right now, and they are looking for local food and beverage staff to help out. People in Yellowknife can contact with their background and information to apply.

15:41 – We’ve been getting a few inquires today about how to make one-time donations to Cabin Radio rather than subscribe to our Patreon. Here are a few options: you can send any amount you want via etransfer to our general manager, AJ Goodwin, at, or you can sponsor a morning show (this includes a few shout-outs to you on the show and costs $150). Like with Patreon, this support will go directly to paying our staff.

If you’re a business, you can also ask us about advertising options if you’d like.

15:13 – As Jean Marie River residents head home, this GNWT returning home safely after a wildfire resource is being shared.

It’s a good reminder for everyone currently affected by wildfire evacuations that there is still a lot of work and potential hazards ahead. For example, I just learned that ash pits (holes in the ground that are hidden by ash and could still have hot embers) are a thing.

14:29 – CKLB journalists are working on a series of “silver linings” stories on their new program Evacuation Station. Here’s Odette Auger, a Windspeaker journalist, with more.

14:22 – Jean Marie River residents are allowed to return home, says the First Nation. The evacuation order has been downgraded to an evacuation alert, which means people should still be prepared to leave again if the fire situation worsens. More follows.

14:05 – Just a few hours after getting online again, service is once again down in Kakisa. A few other communities are also affected. Here’s Emily with an updated story.



13:49 – Well, Kakisa had a couple of hours of service before the fibre line was damaged again.

Just in from Northwestel: “Further fibre damage in the South Slave region has led to a full disruption to Internet, phone and cellular service in Kakisa and Jean Marie River. 

“Long-distance landline phone is also impacted in Hay River and Fort Smith.  Internet, local landline and cellular service are still working in those communities. 

“The fire situation remains dynamic. Technicians will travel to the site of damage to begin repairs as soon as it safe to do so, but communities should expect to be without service for the next 24 hours.”

13:33 – The Sahtu Secretariat’s annual general meeting has been postponed until a later date. It was originally scheduled to take place in Tulita over September 6-7.
The board is meeting on September 20 to schedule a new date. 

12:26 – Thursday and Friday are two big days in the battle against a fire west of Yellowknife, authorities say. Here are the latest updates on major NWT fires.

12:21 – And here’s what the GNWT has to say about Licensed Early Learning and Child Care programs:

12:08 – Information from the GNWT for income assistance clients from evacuated communities:



  • If you are an Income Assistance recipient and were evacuated from Enterprise, Fort Smith, Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, N’Dilo, Dettah or Yellowknife, you do not need to reapply for Income Assistance for September 2023. This payment will be automatically made to you. Clients from communities that have not been evacuated, will still need to submit the monthly reporting form and supporting documentation.
  • If you are an Income Assistance client from a community that has evacuated, any income and/or donations received through Indigenous Governments, family, friends or other organizations during the evacuation period will be exempted and not counted in your next assessment. 

12:04 – Some Northview tenants say they just got the following message:

“August rent will be prorated from the date of the emergency evacuation order, August 18, 2023, and until the evacuation order is lifted. Those residents who have had their rental payment processed will have the prorated amount credited to their account.

“September 1 rent will not be processed and will be prorated based on the date when the evacuation order is lifted, and residents can safely return to our community.

“In its haste to ensure the safety and well-being of its Yellowknife residents and employees as they evacuated, Northview overlooked the need to disable automated electronic messages that are sent to all residents, including those in Yellowknife, when rent payments are past due prior to the evacuation. Northview regrets this oversight and advises Yellowknife residents to disregard the automated messages that were sent in August.”

Note that Northview appears to be taking Friday – the last day by which people had to be out – as the day from which to prorate rent, rather than Wednesday, when the order was announced.

12:03 – There were no calls of concern to the Yellowknife and Hay River RCMP detachments over Wednesday night. There were, however, reports of bears in Yellowknife and the police are working with the Department of Environment and Climate Change to respond to these calls.

Police also flew into Fort Smith, completed patrols, and then few out on Wednesday as risk is too high for them to remain in the community full-time.

“Daily patrols of [Fort Smith] are planned dependent on wildfire activity and visibility at the airport,” said Corporal Matt Halstead, adding police will return permanently as soon as it’s safe to do so.



11:52 – Kakisa is back on the telecoms grid, Northwestel said on Thursday, declaring every NWT community connected again after an outage of extraordinary length. More from Ollie here.

11:49 – “Today and Friday will put significant pressure on the eastern perimeter of this fire (closest to Yellowknife) – with high temperatures, low moisture, and brisk to heavy winds. This is an important 48 hours in the effort to reduce the threat to the capital region with the possibility of fire escaping the perimeter and eastward growth,” says NWT Fire.

Ollie is working on updating our wildfire page here with more information on the North Slave fires. 

11:30 – Chicken alfredo, BBQ pork, beef tenderloin – that’s the menu for firefighters protecting Yellowknife. The kitchen? A specialized Salvation Army trailer.

11:15 – An update from Northwestel: “All telecommunications services are now restored in Kakisa NWT.  At this time, every NWT community has connectivity.  Service remains congested in the Beaufort Delta region and the location of fibre damage remains unsafe for repairs.”

10:12 – Thank you again to Javaroma Gourmet Coffee & Tea and to Megan Holsapple, this week’s morning show sponsors. If you’d like to sponsor the morning show, reach out to our sales team.

10:08 – A little behind the scenes video from the Town of Hay River on fire break building and helicopter bucketing.

9:53 – Shoutout to St Albert from Brittany, who writes, “The City of St. Albert is amazing! Very generous, helpful and kind people here. The Holiday Inn Express in St. Albert has been amazing. The staff have been polite, respectful, and kind since day one of arrival. I have nothing but nice things to say about this hotel.



“The Salvation Army have been bringing us lunch and supper everyday since Monday, August 21. Right here in the lobby they have served us home cooked meals, and they even offer us gluten free and vegetarian options.We really have been spoiled here in St. Albert.” 

9:46 – It’s National Cinema Day on Sunday and at Cineplex and Landmark locations, all movies will be $4/ticket. Best to book tickets ahead of time if there’s something you really want to see or are looking for something to do.

9:41 – Good morning, it’s Sarah here. Epéchile Production, a photographer out of Fort Smith, has been taking photos of the fire fighting efforts in the community. Here’s a shot of his of a sprinkler line along the Kaeser Canal.

“I am constantly amazed by the dedication and the hard work and the solidarity I witness,” he writes.

A sprinkler line along the Kaeser Canal along the Fort Smith boundary. Epéchile Production/Facebook
A sprinkler line along the Kaeser Canal along the Fort Smith boundary. Epéchile Production/Facebook

9:34 – Let’s dance lightly across Sambaa K’e, Chateh, Manning, Edson and Rocky Mountain House, and hand the live over to Sarah in Calgary.

9:21 – If you’re reading this as an NWT evacuee using the free accommodation in Alberta, how’s that going? Have you been told you have your room for as long as you need it? Are you being told you need to move, or been moved already? Are you having any other issues getting food and shelter? Let me know, I’m trying to get a sense of how accommodation is going and what challenges all of us are facing right now.

9:17 – From Matthew Miller at the NWT Teachers’ Association:

“I thought I would share a positive during all of the chaos. Teacher organizations across the country have been reaching out to the NWTTA to offer support in a variety of ways. The Canadian Teachers’ Federation and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation have offered financial support which has been directed to the United Way. To date, $10,000 has been approved for donations.”



9:09 – Doug sends this photo and adds: “When I got back to my car after having dinner at West Edmonton Mall last night, I found the attached note. Another random act of kindness from someone in Edmonton.”

Isn’t that great?

(I mean, his licence plate was gone, but the note is lovely… kidding, kidding.)

9:06 – If you are self-employed or a small business owner, and you have lost your income source through being told to leave your community, apply for the income disruption payment.

Multiple people in your situation have asked me about this. I guarantee you that the GNWT wants you to do that, because the minister of finance told me as much face-to-face two days ago.

Caroline Wawzonek told me: “The income disruption program is flexible. We have to have policies that have wording on the webpage, but it is meant to be flexible. If your income of any kind is disrupted, please go apply. If you’re self-employed, if you’re a business owner and your income is disrupted, you really should be applying – and don’t get bogged down in the details there. Please apply and will someone will be calling you from Finance who’ll work on it.”

9:03 – And from Bill, our latest on plans to delay the territorial election: not everyone planning to run thinks a one-month delay is the best option.

9:01 – From my colleague Aastha: “It was important to get the community together, just to check on each other.” In Alberta, NWT evacuees are finding spaces to reconnect like this Spruce Grove barbecue.



8:51 – A reminder that there’s no GNWT press conference tonight, which is a blessing for those of us who’ve been up at 5am daily only to discover we’re supposed to sound coherent and incisive questioning ministers at 7pm.

Naturally, we will keep pushing for answers on lots of fronts today – we don’t need a press conference to do that.

8:47 – OK, that’s the live show wrapped up. I think we can all agree we learned a lot about what you can do in Grande Prairie right now. Watch it on demand here.

8:06 – On the live show, our general manager AJ is listing all the stuff he’s been doing in Yellowknife to support wildfire defence work. His favourite job so far: being given the keys to the sewage truck.

7:53 – The Canadian national table tennis championships, which had been due to come to Hay River next month, will no longer go ahead in the town.

“Regrettably, due to these unforeseen circumstances, we find ourselves in a position where we must prioritize the safety and well-being of all participants, staff, and attendees,” an email reads.

7:50 – Mornings at the Cabin begins for your viewing or listening pleasure over here in 10 minutes.

7:36 – So many Northwest Territories pets now call Edmonton home that the city has built a dog park purely for evacuee animals.



Photo: City of Edmonton

7:24 – The health minister says the territory is covering travel around Alberta for people who need to move between locations to get medical services. (I’m transcribing this on the fly and this, obviously, is quite a big deal so please confirm with your healthcare service contacts before relying on this statement.)

7:23 – Getting your medical records, however, is “not easy” because the NWT and Alberta use different systems, Green says. The skeleton staff still at Stanton hospital would need to be involved, the minister adds, promising she’ll “dig further into that.”

“If you’re going because you need stitches, they probably don’t need your full medical record. But if you’re going because of a chronic disease, medical records would be helpful and that would be something you’d want to access,” she notes, without being able to provide a sense of how long getting those records might take.

7:21 – On CBC’s Trailbreaker, health minister Julie Green is asked what to know about getting healthcare outside the territory.

“Your NWT health card is good for medical services anywhere in Canada,” she says. “All regular hospital and medical services that people would obtain in the NWT are available to them in Alberta.”

7:11 – When’s the last time you checked the local air quality?

Funny how, after a week in Simpson, I had forgotten the daily routine in Yellowknife of seeing how unbreathable the air was each morning. Well, today the smoke is back. Fort Simpson registers a not-great AQI of 181 right now. Yellowknife is better at 71. Fort Smith is 200 and Hay River is a truly grim 725.

7:06 – Well, here’s your Friday night sorted. There’s an evacuees-only show at the River Cree Resort just west of Edmonton. George Tuccaro and Leanne Goose on the bill, among others.



7:00 – If you’re a Yellowknifer who dipped out of this coverage yesterday to clear your head and recover, here’s a video you might like: meet the people building the city’s wildfire defences and see aerial footage of how those defences are looking.

6:54 – We welcome new full-time reporter Simona Rosenfield today and have also brought on reporters Hannah Paulson and Bill Braden on an emergency basis. This means, for the next few days at least, we have a newsroom of nine reporters – we’re usually lucky to have three – so we’ll try to get through as much as we can.

(There is still no guarantee we can get to everything, but please look at the “contact us” section above and drop us an email if you have something for us.)

6:51 – If you went and did something non-wildfire last night, good for you. The main news yesterday evening was the GNWT warning anyone trying to go home early that you can be prosecuted if you defy a roadblock.

You might also have missed our report on emergency leave, which most employees in the NWT (even in the private sector) can take if they need it, but bear in mind it’s often unpaid unless you work for the GNWT.

6:45 – I believe CBC North’s Trailbreaker is focusing on health a little later this morning and health minister Julie Green will be on the show. Our live video morning show, which is designed more as a 40-minute mental health break than a wildfire update, follows at 8am. I’ll have that link for you when we’re live.

6:40 – Good morning! The smoke has returned – only slightly, but it’s there – in Fort Simpson, and my oh my is that triggering.