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An RCAF C130 Hercules aircraft waits to bring people to safety at Hay River's airport on August 25, 2023. Photo: Submitted
An RCAF C130 Hercules aircraft waits to bring people to safety at Hay River's airport on August 25, 2023. Photo: Submitted

As it happened: Wildfire bears down on Hay River from the west


Video emerging from Hay River showed extraordinarily intense flames in the forest beyond the town’s West Channel as a wildfire drew perilously close on Friday evening.

On Friday afternoon, the NWT’s wildfire agency said there was a “kilometres-wide flame front moving parallel to the highway into Hay River.”

By 7:30pm, two Canadian Forces Hercules aircraft had airlifted virtually all remaining essential personnel to safety, leaving only firefighters.

On this page, we brought you live updates throughout Friday as the battle against that wildfire evolved.



Almost two weeks have now passed since residents of Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Fort Smith and Enterprise were told to drive south to anywhere safe in Alberta. Most Yellowknife residents as well as those from Ndılǫ, Dettah and the Ingraham Trail left the city by road and air a week ago.

Residents were allowed to begin returning to Jean Marie River on Thursday but remain under evacuation alert.

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 also keeping track of the status of utilities, rent and other bills in evacuated communities
  • 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 text reporters: Ollie Williams and Emily Blake in Fort Simpson, Sarah Pruys in Calgary. Live updates have now ended
Thanks to Lady Slipper Lodge for hosting our Fort Simpson team!

00:24 – We’re ending our coverage for tonight. This is Ollie saying thanks for reading. We, like you, are sick of finishing each day hoping uncertainly for a better tomorrow. Godspeed, Hay River.

00:21 – Here’s our overnight copy on the latest from Hay River. Probably some damage, but the full extent might not be clear till the morning. The town centre and most neighbourhoods are OK.

00:12 – From NWT Fire just now:



The town centre and most populated residential neighbourhoods have not been damaged, nor have structures in the West Channel. “There is likely structure loss to the west of town close to Great Slave Lake. This needs to be confirmed in better visibility.”

The water treatment plant is OK, but the fire “progressed a significant distance parallel to the highway on the west of the river” and is “very close to town.”

Work continues on the fire overnight. Visibility is extremely poor so information about structure damage is minimal.

“We want to be extremely clear: no frontline firefighters left when essential support workers were evacuated,” NWT Fire wrote. “They continued firefighting efforts throughout the night, and they will continue to work tirelessly to fight this fire and protect these communities.

“The impacts of this event could have been so much greater had the work on fuel breaks, ignition operations, structural protection (including sprinklers), and other critical firefighting efforts [not taken place] over the last two weeks.”

NWT Fire expects northerly winds to push the fire back on itself on Saturday.

“This will provide a good opportunity to regroup, assess, and continue fighting these fires safely.”

00:05 – I’m still here. Anticipating an NWT Fire update shortly that will be our last act of the night.



23:38 – This is the NWT’s highway map right now (the southern half, at any rate). The farthest you can go is Wrigley.

A GNWT map of highway closures as of 11:30pm on August 25, 2023.
A GNWT map of highway closures as of 11:30pm on August 25, 2023.

23:29 – Highway 6 from Hay River to Fort Resolution is now closed because of a wildfire.

(If you’re in Fort Res, now might be a good time – as a precautionary measure – to get a go-bag and emergency kit ready, just in case you need it.)

23:24 – “I thought four feet of water sucked,” one Hay River resident just wrote to me, checking their camera back at their house. (It’s OK, so far.)

There are no words for the pain this community has had to endure. I’m sorry.

23:19 – We’re hoping to have a meaningful update from crews on the ground within the hour.

I realize that must be an eternity for Hay River residents reading this. I’ll stay with you till then and my colleagues will be back first thing in the morning.

23:10 – This from the NWT SPCA just now:



“There are 11 dogs that were on the emergency evacuation from Hay River to Edmonton. They are currently sitting on the tarmac in Edmonton and have nowhere to go! If anyone is able to pick up a dog or two, please contact Kori at 867-875-0031 or Melissa at 613-531-1351.”

22:46 – The scene in Hay River at 8:15pm.

Footage: Ian Myers.

22:45 – CKHR, Hay River’s broadcasting society, has applied for press accreditation for GNWT news conferences and is seeking residents’ questions.

22:43 – This is the experimental imagery I’m talking about. It’s a Firms map image using geostationary satellite data that is considered less reliable.

A Firms map of Hay River and area on the evening of August 25, 2023.

The large red dots are the experimental part. They use a different data source to the yellow, smaller dots, which are older. Dark red means a hotspot from within the past hour – which, if this data is accurate, would mean exceptional growth to the east and, as is obvious, growth extremely close to Hay River.

Again, we’re hopeful of an NWT Fire update in the near future, which you can consider to be significantly more concrete than interpretations of satellite data. My colleague Chloe wrote earlier in the day of the pitfalls associated with satellite fire maps, even though sometimes they can feel like virtually the only source of information for hours at a time.

22:36 – The Rev Francis Delaplain, rector of St Andrew’s, Hay River’s Anglican church, delivered a psalm and a message on the church’s Facebook page. “Everything we know is being threatened and feels very temporary.”

22:33 – It’s 24C in Hay River right now and Monday’s forecast high is 32C. The normal high for this time of year in Hay River is 18C.



22:30 – Some of the available satellite imagery, but only experimental imagery that we can’t quite fully rely on, is suggesting extraordinary fire growth to the east of Hay River. There are reports of the fire jumping Highway 5 east of the town.

22:22 – Hay River only recently published a document setting out how the town is being protected if a fire comes near.

An image from a Town of Hay River document shows wildfire protections as of August 2023.

You can read the full document here.

22:10 – We are hoping to get at least one more Hay River update from fire crews this evening. That may not come through, but I know NWT Fire is working on it.

21:58 – This is Ollie, taking over from Sarah to give her some rest. There is no rest for Hay River. All of the thoughts of our staff are with the town and its residents tonight.

21:42 – Highway 1 is closed from the Highway 3 intersection to Fort Simpson. There’s a fire really close to the highway in the vicinity of the Redknife River.

21:38 – There are currently 239 active fires in the NWT. Only 36 fires in 2023 have been declared out.

21:35 – The Town of Hay River just urged “persons on the West Channel bank that are not essential personnel” to get back to their home or a safe location, telling them: “You are interfering with fire control efforts.”



21:22 – An update from Wood Buffalo National Park on the Fort Smith fire: “Today, we experienced some active fire behaviour, but the smoke helped to raise the relative humidity. This assisted in keeping fire behaviour lower than what was forecasted.

“Alongside all the good work that has been done, something that also worked in our favour: because it’s so late in the wildfire season, the peak burn window is narrower than during the heat of the summer.”

Crews have been able to get some important protective work done with extreme fire behaviour being held at bay by the weather. 

21:03 – And here’s the view from a weather cam in Yellowknife tonight (unfortunately I don’t think we have access to weather cams in other communities currently affected by wildfires – I’ve even tried seeing if Hay River’s river break-up cams are still active, but there’s no recent footage).

Photo: CasCom

21:02 – The City of Yellowknife says it will not be charging any late penalties for the property tax installment and final tax levy due on August 31 for those who did not sign up for a pre-authorized payment plan. Pre-authorized monthly payments for property taxes will continue.

20:59 – It’s looking super smokey across the North and South Slave tonight. Here’s a screengrab of the latest air quality (by comparison, where I am in Calgary, the air quality is rated at 55 – just ever so slightly smokey here).

20:39 – This video sent to Cabin Radio shows a wildfire in the vicinity of Hay River on the evening of August 25, 2023. Footage was taken in the West Channel area of the town, the person who submitted the video said.

20:29 – Two photos taken at the same time tonight: one looking toward Hay River, and one looking away from Hay River toward Alberta.



The view looking toward Hay River the evening of Friday, August 25, 2023. Photo: Mark Rowe
The view looking toward Hay River the evening of Friday, August 25, 2023. Photo: Mark Rowe
The view looking toward Alberta, away from Hay River, the evening of Friday, August 25, 2023. Photo: Mark Rowe
The view looking toward Alberta, away from Hay River, the evening of Friday, August 25, 2023. Photo: Mark Rowe

20:25 – The Town of Hay River says its second and final flight to safety tonight has left. There is now nobody left except fire crews, the town stated. The second flight included Mayor Kandis Jameson and senior administrator Glenn Smith.

20:24 – Yellowknife’s mayor said comments by MLA Katrina Nokleby, who has controversially returned to the city, were “incredibly disrespectful.” Here’s the full story.

20:15 – I couldn’t quite get to this update while the press conference was going on as it required a bit of background research.

Earlier today, NNSL published a story about Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby saying she had returned to Yellowknife as advisor to the Ndılǫ chief – although the Yellowknives Dene First Nation said they had no such arrangement, telling the paper, “…we would like to emphasize that Ms Nokleby is not an essential worker for YKDFN and she has not been provided any authorization from the First Nation to gain access to the communities of Dettah and Ndılǫ.”

During tonight’s press conference, Mayor Alty rejected Nokleby’s claims in the NNSL story the city was not at risk.

“I want to take this opportunity to address MLA Nokleby’s comments in NNSL today, [which read], “I don’t don’t feel a huge sense of urgency. I’ve seen people playing Frisbee. It doesn’t strike me that the town is about to burn down by any means.’”

“For me that comment is incredibly disrespectful to all the crews that have been busting their ass 12 to 18 hours a day to protect our community,” said Alty.

20:06 – There will be no press conferences over the weekend. Next week, press conferences are planned for Monday and Thursday nights. This plan is subject to change depending on how the wildfire situation evolves. 



20:05 – “I will be meeting with the Prime Minister tomorrow afternoon. I will be discussing the situation that we’re facing in the Northwest Territories. The huge financial costs that are going to be impacting the Northwest Territories, and soliciting more support for the territories,” says Premier Cochrane. 

“We’ve been asking for a proper infrastructure, proper road systems, proper cell phone systems for decades. This wildfire has showed the risk that when we don’t get that then. I will also be emphasizing that the time for talk is done, we need action now.”

19:56 – More on the upcoming school year: education bodies are working with the education department and will be looking at the amount of instructional time students have missed to determine whether there’ll be need to adjust school calendars and what additional counselling services will be needed to support students. 

19:53 – “There have been people, there will be people that do get kicked out [of hotel accomodations], but we are reinforcing to people go back to the evacuation centre. We will try to either have people to work with you or we’ll be looking at other evacuation accommodations for people,” says Premier Caroline Cochrane.

19:50 – The GNWT expects the new travel subsidy program will cost the territorial government about $6 million. 

19:48 – “This new travel subsidy program will also be available online, but it just takes some time to actually physically build online infrastructure,” says Minister Wawzonek. “And so folks are going to be working through the weekend on that and we’re expecting it to be live, I’m saying Monday, but it’ll certainly be live early next week.”

19:46 – Jennifer Young, Emergency Management Organization information officer, says there were about 100 residents and up to 200 essential workers in Hay River before final evacuation flights started leaving the town this evening.

“I can also let you know that one plane has already left Hay River with 56 people on it. There’s two more to go in tonight. And my understanding is that some residents have chosen to leave by other means as well,” Young says.



19:43 – Minister Thompson says there is no internal date the GNWT has in mind for people to return to Yellowknife, in response to a question about how some lawyers have indicated that court could be back in Yellowknife in mid-September.

19:40 – On the $750 payment, Wawzonek says, “I have no doubt that I think a lot of people will be saying, ‘Look, this doesn’t meet my needs. This doesn’t suit my needs.’ What we were trying to do is, firstly, is be quick about what we were designing. Secondly, to try to do something that could respond to a real range of themes that we’re hearing right now around making sure that people’s essential needs are met.”

19:39 – Ollie asks how the GNWT came up with a $750 evacuee payment.

“At this point, we were trying to find a number that was generally representative of, you know, anecdotally, what people would say is a typical amount to fuel up, considering two directions that they have to travel,” says Wawzonek. She adds the amount lines up with the income disruption support program and makes things simpler.

19:37 – CBC asks about rental support in the private sector. 

“I can’t speak to necessarily what is happening in the private sector, but I did notice a headline elsewhere that at least one of the major holders of rental units in the Northwest Territories has actually followed suit [in prorating rent]. So it looks like that might be a happy surprise that didn’t require legislation,” says Minister Wawzonek.

19:33 – “Now is not the time to take chances or find loopholes. We know it’s hard to be away – we’re away to … Follow the evacuation orders. Every non-essential person on the ground takes up resources and time from our crews that could be better spent protecting our communities,” Davey-Quantick says.

19:31 – “[The Hay River] fire has held the same amount of time as the ones outside of Yellowknife. And in a matter of hours, the situation has changed drastically. Fort Smith is under similar pressure with high winds and temperatures increasing fire activity,” Davey-Quantick continues. 



19:30 – “Firefighters from [Hay River] are activating structural protection and are ready to deal with any encroachments the fire may have on the town,” says Jessica Davey-Quantick, wildfire information officer.

19:24 – Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty is up next, talking about the city’s reentry planning (we also wrote a story about this earlier today).

“Right now we have skeleton crews providing services for the 1000 essential workers. It will take a bit of time to make sure we’re ready to support a city of 20,000. Again, we will share as much as we can, when we can, as plans come together,” she said.

19:21 – Chief Sangris encourages members to register so the Nation knows where everyone is. He also says they are working to distribute emergency financial relief.

19:18 – Dettah Chief Edward Sangris for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation says “We are working with many officials to help our members reunite with their families as they are scattered all over, no matter where they find themselves.”

19:15 – “Extreme southwest winds have pushed the fire closer to town along the highway, forcing crews and aircraft to pull back and regroup at a safe distance distance,” says Minister Shane Thompson of the Hay River fire. Everyone, with the exception of firefighters, should be evacuating the community right now. Head to the airport if you haven’t already.

19:13 – “We are trying though, to recognize that some of the funding here will provide some relief, even while not necessarily fixing each and every individual circumstance or need that’s being experienced,” says Minister Caroline Wawzonek of the new evacuation funding that was just announced.

There’s also info about support for small businesses in this report.



19:07 – The press conference is starting – we’ve got lots of opening remarks tonight. I’ll try to bring you summaries of what is said as quickly as possible.

18:57 – Hay River official Patrick Bergen tells us the second airlift flight out of the town, which will be the last flight, “is still on its way to the Hay River airport.” All evacuees remaining need to be at the airport as soon as possible. “The fire is progressing toward the west of the town,” said Bergen by email.

18:53 – From Ollie, here’s the latest on the newly announced GNWT funding. We’ll have more shortly from the press conference.

18:45 – Handing now to Sarah Pruys to cover the news conference here while I’m in it.

PS the Herc has taken off from Hay River.

18:44 – The GNWT says it’ll give you $750 per vehicle (not per person) if you drove to a southern jurisdiction, or $400 per vehicle if you stayed in the NWT.

There’s also a new grant of up to $5,000 for “wildfire-affected businesses.”

Evacuees who left by road but need to return by air “will be eligible to register for organized re-entry flights paid for by the GNWT.”



Details on how to register for you $750/$400 will follow later.

More in this news release. We’ll have questions at the 7pm press conference. (What would you ask? Tell me.)

18:37 – The GNWT has just announced more funding for evacuees. Hang on.

18:29 – With the wildfire information officer in the Herc and anyone left on the ground a firefighter with a lot to do, it’s going to be very hard to give you accurate information on this fire this evening but we’ll do what we can.

Mike Westwick at NWT Fire said he’ll check in with crews late tonight once the Herc lands in Edmonton to see if any information is available.

At latest, you can expect a reliable update by Saturday morning, which of course we will bring to you on this website.

18:26 – Our understanding is there’s another flight preparing to leave after this first Herc takes off. Herc number one has 60 people on board, at Mike’s rough estimate, and is Edmonton-bound. He says 30 to 40 cars have crossed the checkpoint heading south as people fled by vehicle this afternoon (which was not the recommended route but if you’re out, you’re out).

18:21 – This photo shows the Herc taking everyone possible out of Hay River to safety.



“The whole area is blanketed in thick, dark smoke,” NWT Fire’s Mike Westwick told me.

“A dark tinge of yellow. You know, radiant orange sun behind that thick blanket of smoke. It’s very difficult to see in front of you.

“The wind has been overbearing throughout the afternoon and through the evening. It was forecast to get up to 50 km/h in terms of gusting – we suspect that it’s actually been higher than that for some time here.

“It’s certainly a really, really severe situation. But, again, everybody here is prepared. They planned for this day and the operation to keep folks safe here has been successful thus far. We’re going to be continuing to fight our hearts out for this town.”

18:16 – Mike Westwick, from the Herc leaving Hay River: “Our number-one priority is getting folks out safe right now. We’re gonna have to regroup and reassess when things are safe – safer.”

18:12 – I’m just off the phone with NWT Fire’s Mike Westwick who’s in the C130 at Hay River’s airport and will be heading to Edmonton with all other essential personnel in the next few minutes.

I have a lot to tell you but the key message, which I don’t think was overly obvious this afternoon, is that the firefighters are still on the ground. Essential personnel means everyone else, the crews themselves are on the ground and ready to fight.

From Mike:



“I want to be clear that none of our firefighters have left. They’re going to be doing absolutely everything they can protect the town of Hay River as the fire moves closer. The Town of Hay River has planned for this and has an extensive network of sprinklers, and a lot of firefighters who have tactical plans to deal with encroachment of that fire.”

18:07 – I’m on the phone with NWT Fire from the Herc, more coming.

17:45 – Satellite imagery sites like Zoom Earth currently aren’t showing anything we didn’t already know from earlier. Ditto Firms and our own map. From what I can tell, the latest confirmed satellite hotspots we have come from about 2:30 MT this afternoon.

17:36 – To underline the gravity of what’s occurring, the GNWT had instructed “all persons in the Hay River area, including essential workers” to get to the airport. Rarely this summer have all personnel been ordered to get somewhere, facing an oncoming fire.

17:33 – On hearing of the Hay River fire’s progress, Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine just gave this prayer at a press conference:

“I’d like to ask the Creator to bless us all. To also take care of the people in Hay River and Kátł’odeeche and also West Point. It’s a very scary moment. I just ask the Creator to ensure that they’re safe, they’re protected, and that all the people that have been devastated by the evacuation … that all the necessary needs for their well-being are met. And also to protect all those people that are at the front line, doing the work out there on their behalf to protect them and keep them safe. And also to help our leaders, so that way they could put their differences aside and really focus on the priority of safety, protection, and the well-being of our people.”

17:32 – With so few people remaining in Hay River, and the satellite imagery challenges Chloe reported on just now, getting certainty about the fire’s progress right now is extremely hard.

There is an experimental satellite map with geostationary satellite data that does put the fire significantly closer to the town than was earlier the case, and a Dene Nation press conference just now involved someone asserting they had been told how much closer to the town the fire is, but there is nothing that we can give you definitively right now.



17:12 – There’ll be a 7pm GNWT press conference this evening where we’ll be able to get the latest on Hay River from NWT Fire, which of course we’ll bring here as text for anyone unable to watch live.

17:05 – There’s a Canadian Forces C130 – aka a Herc – on the ground in Hay River to get anyone who can leave out of harm’s way.

17:00 – We’re aware of reports that construction continues on at least one Yellowknife project that appears unrelated to wildfire defence. More to come on that, we’ve spoken with several parties involved.

Also being worked on as our team heads into evening: Sarah is covering this afternoon’s Dene Nation press conference on the fires, Simona continues to speak with evacuees whose accommodation situation has been a concern, Aastha is filing on the impact of the evacuations on the NWT’s barge resupply, and I’m watching developments in Hay River. I’ll also take the 7pm GNWT press conference.

16:38 – This is the scene at the Enterprise checkpoint. Around eight or nine vehicles being held up because of the fire threat beyond, toward Kakisa.

A road checkpoint at Enterprise on August 25, 2023. Photo: Submitted
A road checkpoint at Enterprise on August 25, 2023. Photo: Submitted

16:28 – As promised, this is new from our climate science reporter Chloe, who tried to get into the science underpinning satellite fire mapping and the things that different maps do, plus the dangers to be aware of in relying too heavily on what you see.

In summary: these maps can be useful, but they also have limitations. Here’s a guide.

A screenshot of the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS) interactive map from August 25, 2023. Photo:
A screenshot of the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS) interactive map from August 25, 2023.

16:26 – A very important line to stress from NWT Fire in the past hour: “The Town of Hay River has not been impacted yet. This is a threat, but not a certainty.”



16:20 – At the moment, there isn’t a map that’ll readily illustrate what’s taking place outside Hay River. Satellite maps have their uses but in northern regions – as you’ll learn from a really useful article my colleague Chloe just finished up, stand by for that – there are often data gaps in the afternoon and early evening, which frustratingly is also peak burn period.

16:15 – “Anyone who remains in Hay River is doing so at their own risk. There will be no emergency services or response available,” the GNWT stated.

16:13 – Highway 1 is closed between Enterprise and Kakisa. One resident at the Enterprise roadblock, trying to reach Behchokǫ̀, said conditions are “really hot and really windy” and workers report the fire “flaring up badly between here and Kakisa.”

16:07 – Good evening, everybody. This is Ollie. The situation in Hay River sounds quite serious so stand by, we’ll follow that very closely.

16:05 – Well that’s all for me today folks. Handing you over to Ollie.

15:56 – Ice Wireless says its services are temporarily down in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Norman Wells and Hay River. It says if there is availability on partner networks and your plan allows for it, you can roam. Roaming charges may apply but the company said it will waive the first 1GB of charges between August 18 to September 12.

You can read more about telecommunications, utility and other bills in affected communities here.

15:34 – In an update, NWT Fire says a “blow-up event” has overwhelmed firefighting efforts in a section at the north end of the fire burning near Hay River. A flame front is moving parallel to the highway into town.



Wildfire crews and aircraft have been pulled back and non-essential personnel are being evacuated, the wildfire agency says.

“The Town of Hay River has not been impacted yet. This is a threat, but not a certainty.”

15:29 – An alert has been sent out warning of an “active fire threat” in Hay River. Everyone, including essential workers, in the area should head to the airport and await further instructurions.

15:22 – In a joint letter to parents, Yellowknife and area schools say that schools, which had been set to reopen on August 28, will not be opening on September 5 either. The letter says once the evacuation order is lifted, the staged return to Yellowknife and surrounding areas will require time and planning, including ensuring schools and staff are prepared to welcome students.

15:08 – Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty says she met with Dan Vandal, minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency to talk about the impact wildfires and evacuations are having on residents and businesses.

“The city will continue to lobby and advocate for more supports, and we hope they will announce funding support soon,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

14:45 – After a brief reprieve last night, there will be another GNWT press conference tonight at 7pm.

14:43 – The Dene Nation is holding a press conference at 4:30pm about the NWT government’s proposal to delay the upcoming territorial election as well as the current wildfire situation.



14:33 –From Simona: The City of Edmonton’s Office of Emergency Management says Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is on the ground reissuing IDs for evacuees at the resource centre.

The NWT government has also previously said evacuees whose general identification cards, driver’s licences and vehicle registrations are expired, about to expire or lost can get a 90-day extension while they are out of the territory due to wildfire evacuation. Evacuees can contact the registrar of motor vehicles

14: 25 – Tłı̨chǫ Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty says his government may need help from the south after the Yellowknife supply chain to smaller communities broke down.

14:04 – Latest update from NWT Fire on wildfire SS052, which is burning near Hay River: The wildfire agency says hot, dry and windy conditions are increasing the threat to the town. Kakisa is not at immediate threat but is potentially vulnerable to winds from the east.

Aircraft are completing drops to slow the fire’s growth towards Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, and Kakisa.

Sprinklers in Hay River. Aaron Campbell/Facebook

13: 57 – From Sarah, who’s been following the NWT and Alberta press conference held by the two premiers in Calgary:

“These fires – I would love to say it was a one-time event but I can’t guarantee that,” Premier Caroline Cochrane said after touring a Calgary evacuation centre. “What I can say is … we’ve been asking for the same infrastructure – roads, communications that people in Canada take for granted – for decades.

“When our community of Hay Rivers started on fire, people were driving through our one road out with fire on both sides. Our communications went down. We had no redundancy. I couldn’t get a hold of people. I couldn’t know if they were safe, if they were evacuated or not. So, I’ve been screaming for infrastructure for decades.



“So I’m tired. I’ve been tired for a long time, asking for infrastructure. And now I’m angry. And I think that I’m not going to be able to do it alone … I need every single Canadian to say it is not okay that the territories live like third world countries. That we do not have the same services that people in the south have. So please, everyone raise your voice, because I need the federal government to hear we are Canadians and we deserve the same.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said: “Over the past week, we’ve gained 21,576 temporary residents and Albertans are very proud to help.”

She added Alberta’s health care system has assisted in the evacuation of four hospitals throughout the wildfire crisis in the NWT and BC, and is currently serving the health care needs of four acute care patients, 55 continuing care patients, 30 obstetrics patients, and 19 dialysis patients.

12:49 – From Ollie: Crews in Hay River and Fort Smith began “full-scale” operations as conditions worsen and fires threaten the towns. Here’s the latest on the NWT’s major fires as we head into Friday afternoon.

12:09 – The Explorer Hotel shared this video of a bear outside their front doors in Yellowknife:

A bear at the Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife. Video: Explorer Hotel

11:54 – Premier Caroline Cochrane spoke to CBC’s The Current about infrastructure needs in the North.

11:50 – More on the the NWT Health and Social Services Authority’s services updates page in our story here.

11:47 – Nunavut’s Department of Family Services says adult learning and training supports clients who have booked travel through Yellowknife should contact their career development officer to check the status of their flights and accommodations. The department says its career development division will work with clients to reschedule flights and accommodations if needed.



11:42 – From Ollie: More from RCMP in the NWT, who say officers have now joined Department of Infrastructure staff at checkpoints near Enterprise and Yellowknife.

11:39 – If you’re not sick of hearing about Cabin Radio, the Meta news ban, covering the wildfires and Cabin Radio’s FM application, Ollie joined Jonathan Goldsbie for an episode of Canadaland’s Short Cuts to give his take.

11:01 – When MLAs reconvene on Monday in Inuvik, either in-person or remotely, you can now tune into a livestream. (The Legislative Assembly previously said they would be recording the session and then making the video available).

MLAs are set to meet at 1:30 pm on Monday to discuss legislations to delay the October territorial general election and emergency costs related to the wildfire crisis.

The Legislative Assembly advises that there may be some connection issues.

10:56 – Vanessa wrote us: “Lucy making the best out of the sour situation. Took the leash from me and started walking her.” 

Who doesn’t love an independent woman who’s not afraid to take charge?

10:51 – NWT evacuees in Calgary and Vancouver looking for space to work, WeWork is offering free admission. Amy wrote us to say she’s been at the Calgary office all week which has “good coffee and bright workspaces.”


10:30 – When the time comes, how is Yellowknife going to bring everyone back home again? Ollie asked the mayor and city manager about the plan.

10:28 – GoodLife Fitness says NWT evacuees can keep using its change room facilities, bathrooms, and showers for at least another week in all of its Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, and St Albert gyms. “The clubs will remain available to evacuees through next week, and that timeline will be extended if needed,” the company just stated.

10:08 – In an update, the RCMP says officers are now posted to Department of Infrastructure checkpoints near Enterprise and Yellowknife. They have warned people not to return to communities under evacuation orders and that doing so could result in charges.

RCMP say call volumes have remained low in Yellowknife overnight and there were no confirmed reports of break and enters.

There were no calls for service in Hay River where officers are patrolling along with Kátł’odeeche First Nation.

Officers were unable to patrol Fort Smith Thursday as low visibility due to smoke prevented an RCMP aircraft from landing. If conditions improve, officers are expected to arrive in the town later today.

10:02 – Just wanted to take a second to plug our wildfire map which uses satellites to show hot-spots and existing burn areas. It is working but may take a second to load.

9:56 – In case you were wondering; “what’s happening with the City of Yellowknife’s governance and priorities committee meeting scheduled for Monday?” It’s been cancelled due to a lack of agenda items.

9:54 – In case you’re wondering what’s happening with mail, here’s the latest information we have.

9:11 – The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services authority has launched a wildfire health services updates page for the latest information on services and supports for NWT such as remote prescription refills, cancer care, and more. You can also call 811 in the NWT and 1-844-259-1793 outside the territory for health information and general information about evacuation supports.

9:06 – Emily here, now reporting one foot away from Ollie while eating toast.

8:42 – This is Ollie handing you back now to Emily, reporting live from 20 feet away.

8:24 – I know you may have heard this before, but we’re told we’re in the middle of a big 48 hours for the fire outside Yellowknife and the fires threatening Hay River and Fort Smith. Today, in particular, the forecast is not great for crews fighting the South Slave fires. Here’s our latest summary of the threat level.

Note that these fires are massive so if you’re becoming tired of constant “this is a big 48 hours” updates, I imagine the fire crews are probably even more tired than we are. If you find the lack of apparent change in outlook frustrating, I think that’s a reflection of the extreme amount of work needed to save our communities and the extraordinary level of threat rather than, y’know, the water bomber pilots spent the day playing checkers.

8:15 – The GNWT just rolled out a new wildfire health services updates page. No, these are not health services for the wildfire – they are for you, and the page is designed to help you figure out how to access the health services you need.

8:12 – The Town of Hay River just put up a presentation showing exactly how it’s preparing for “challenging” days ahead.

8:09 – The morning show today is discussing the concept of “rage rooms,” which apparently exist as an alternative to radio call-in shows if you are really feeling it right now and need to deal with some emotions.

8:04 – This is Ollie, hopping in for Emily (whose updates are below) as she is now appearing live in our morning show.

7:38 – Norman Wells, which is not currently impacted by evacuation orders, is lifting a fire ban due to cooler temperatures and rain. The ban will be replaced by a fire restriction effective today at noon. Open air fires will not be allowed except for approved fire pits and fireplaces.

7:34 – Last night NWT Fire said wildfires near Yellowknife, Ndılǫ, Dettah, Ingraham Trail did not significantly advance and direct attacks on the fires continue.