Support from northerners like you keeps our journalism alive. Sign up here.

As it happened: Tuesday updates on the NWT’s wildfire crisis

A firefighter working on the Fort Smith fire. Photo: Wood Buffalo National Park
A firefighter working on fires outside Fort Smith in August 2023. Photo: Parks Canada


The Hay River and Fort Smith fires remain out of control but have not grown significantly closer to either town.

In Yellowknife, the fires are now classified as “being held” and the city is beginning to initiate plans to recall some critical staff.

Throughout Tuesday, we’re bringing you updates on this page about the territory’s wildfire crisis: the fires themselves, how governments are responding, and supports for people displaced from their homes.

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.

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

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

20:59 – That concludes our liver coverage for today.

20:57 – The City of Yellowknife’s Governance and Priorities committee meetings scheduled for September 5 and 11 and the council meeting scheduled for September 11 have been cancelled.

20:55 – The City of Yellowknife has sent out a reminder that anyone who has been identified as an essential worker and is being asked to return to the city will be contacted directly by their employer.

19:35 –In a separate update, NWT Fire reported one new lightning-caused fire burning approximately 167 kilometres southwest of Tulita. The wildfire agency says it is roughly 165 hectares, is being monitored, and no communities or infrastructure are at risk.

The Jean Marie River wildfire, FS028, is now approximately 90 percent contained. Crews are continuing to work on its perimeter.

Fire FS010, burning about 75 kilometres northeast of Sambaa K’e, has jumped Highway 1 at kilometres 290-292. Crews have begun blacklining to avoid further spread. Sprinklers have been set up at Sambaa Deh Falls Territorial Park.



19:24 –A new update from NWT Fire on the Hay River/Kátł’odeeche/Kakisa wildfire: Heavy smoke shaded the fire from the sun today, keeping temperatures lower than forecast and moisture in the air higher, causing less fire activity. Aircraft were unable to fly due to the smoke but ground crews were able to work. A similar day is expected tomorrow.

No new losses or significant progression of fire SS052 has been reported.

Reinforcements from New Zealand arrived today and additional reinforcements from other provinces are expected shortly.

19:15 – NWT Fire says in an update that the Dettah wildfire, fire ZF085 has had minimal growth to the southwest. All other fires in the North Slave Complex remain steady.

The wildfire agency says a heat wave through the North Slave will continue with record breaking heat expected overnight and into tomorrow. It says this is being caused by high pressure from the Beaufort Delta combined with an area of low pressure from southwestern NWT.

Winds are also expected to remain gusty overnight and into tomorrow morning.

For Thursday, a chance of a few millimeters of rain has been forecast, with a chance of thundershowers into Thursday evening.

18:59 – Air Canada has updated its rebooking policy due to the evacuation order in Yellowknife. Anyone who purchased an Air Canada ticket no later than August 17 for travel between August 15 and September 13 whose itinerary includes a flight to or from the Yellowknife Airport can change their flight free of charge between now and October 15. You will receive a full refund if you choose to cancel your flight.



18:45 – We’ve gotten some messages that the NWT’s new evacuation travel support program application currently lists the evacuation date for Fort Smith as August 13 rather than August 12. We have reached out to the GNWT for clarification.

17:42 – Tony shared this video with us of a firefighter in the NWT showing off his best dance moves.

17:39 – It’s currently a little bit smoky in Fort Simpson.

17:27 – More from Sarah on applying for the NWT’s new evacuation travel support program: To complete the online application, you’ll need your licence plate number; SIN; bank institution number, branch number and bank account number; and the address of your bank (you can google this). If you choose the direct deposit option, you’ll also need a copy of a void cheque (you can likely download a digital void cheque through online banking).

17:05 – Danny at Risk Control Canada sent us these photos of smoke rolling into Yellowknife.

Smoke rolling in over Yellowknife the afternoon of August 29, 2023. Danny/Risk Control
Smoke rolling in over Yellowknife the afternoon of August 29, 2023. Danny/Risk Control
Smoke rolling in over Yellowknife the afternoon of August 29, 2023. Danny/Risk Control

17:00 – A shoutout from David Livingstone to “Ben Nind et al for all the help they provided, from driving buses, checking homes, feeding pets, clearing fire breaks, cleaning fridges – on and on and on.”

16:55 – Smoky conditions in Hay River today. NWT Fire said earlier today favourable wind conditions would push the fire back on itself but there would be severe visibility challenges today – with visibility at less than 30 feet.

A very smokey Hay River on August 29, 2023. Photo: GNWT
A very smokey Hay River on August 29, 2023. Photo: GNWT

16:42 – More from Sarah on how to apply for financial support if you evacuated the NWT by road.



15:53 – The GNWT has launched an application page for its evacuation travel support program. Currently NWT residents who evacuated by road outside the territory are eligible for $750 per vehicle while those who drove elsewhere in the NWT can apply for $400 per vehicle.

15:45 – The Yellowknives Dene First Nation says YKDFN Dechita Naowo is offering elders and youth aged 15 and older a sewing group from Monday to Thursday between 1pm to pm with Ali Abel at the River Cree boardroom in Enoch, Alberta.

14:57 – Emily here taking over the live from Fort Simpson.

14:01 – Emily has a story with more details on what we know about the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority’s plan to resume healthcare service in Yellowknife.

The health authority said it would also release further information for staff in Fort Smith as the fire situation in the South Slave region evolves. The Hay River Health and Social Services Authority has not publicly shared any return-to-work plans yet.

13:43 – Northern-based Outcrop Communication has launched its own line of NWT Strong clothing and will donate all net profits to the United Way NWT’s fundraising efforts.

13:30 – Here’s Chloe’s story on the GNWT asking staff to redeploy to support evacuees.

12:52 – In an update to staff, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) said it has not yet triggered a broad staff recall, although this could occur at any time once the GNWT’s emergency management organization gives the go-ahead.



Over the next few days, NTHSSA will be surveying staff to determine their current location, method of return, and timeline in which they can be back, though the authority noted some staff may be required to be back sooner than others to help re-establish core services.

NTHSSA said they understand immediate families and dependents will be permitted to return with essential workers.

12:52 – The GNWT is asking its non-essential employees to consider redeployment position to support evacuees in-person in Edmonton and Calgary. Positions include things like supporting Elders with day-to-day tasks or working at evacuation centres as pathfinders. 

Employees interested in redeployment are asked to reap to their supervisor and fill out an NWT Wildfires redeployment application.

12:10 – In the North Slave, NWT Fire says today temperatures will reach and could exceed the record temperature for Yellowknife on this day, at 26C. Wind is expected to remain “fairly gusty” today and overnight. The wildfire agency says these conditions will make for more aggressive fire behaviour.

12:10 – In Fort Smith, the fire is still out of control. There was some fire growth but it was not significant, Parks Canada says, and lingering smoke kept the fire less active. Smoky conditions are expected to last over the next few days but firefighters anticipate that by Friday the smoke may lift and fire behaviour could intensify.

12:09 – Our ‘wildfire latest’ story has been updated with the latest on the fires near Yellowknife, Ndılǫ, Dettah, and Ingraham Trail as well as near Fort Smith.

12:02 – We’re getting a lot of questions about how reentry will work if one family member is requested to return as an essential worker – yet the whole family drove out together. We’ve asked the GNWT and the City of Yellowknife if families will be permitted to return together, and what the accreditation process for this will look like so you can smoothly pass the road blocks on your way home.



11:47 – This video from @stunningfromthewest on Tik Tok shows some of the work that has been done in Yellowknife over the past two weeks.

11:22 – We’ve gotten reports from folks who were able to drive between Enterprise and the NWT/Alberta border around 6am.

“Patches of fire burning along the highway from roughly 5kms south of Enterprise to about 40kms south of town. The worse being between 30-40kms.”

Highway 1 is currently closed from the NWT/AB border to kilometre 84 due to a wildfire.

11:03 – The Hay River/Kátł’odeeche/Kakisa Fire fire remains out of control as temperatures are forecast to reach up to 30C. Favourable winds are expected on Tuesday, but visibilty is very poor which will make both air and ground operations challenging. In the morning, visibility was less than 30 feet.

While the fire has reached Delancey Estates, no new losses have been confirmed and the area is still being successfully defended. We’ve updated our ‘wildfire latest’ story here with more information, including how far away the fire is from various areas.

10:16 – From Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty on Facebook: “I know parent chat groups were a buzz this morning, but parents: you can take a deep breathe, we’ve moved the date for swimming lesson registration.

“Monday, September 18 is the new registration date for swimming lessons and other City programs. It’s subject to change again, if need be, but you can pencil that in your calendar.”



9:12 –  There are heat warnings in place for much of the South Slave and Dehcho regions today.

Environment Canada is reminding people to watch for the symptoms of heat illness (like dizziness, nausea, rapid breathing, and extreme thirst), and to stay cool, drink water, and not leave pets or people in parked vehicles. 

8:58 –  WestJet has just sent us the following: “With no timeline for when WestJet can return to service in Yellowknife, we have updated our travel advisory to extended flexible change/cancel guidelines until September 13, 2023. We continue to monitor the situation closely and advise all guests in the region, or with plans to visit the region, to follow all response instructions provided by local authorities.”

8:54 –  Hay River RCMP returned to the town on Monday and were able to remain overnight “due to positive fire conditions,” the RMCP said in a Tuesday morning email.

In Fort Smith, police will continue patrols by air as conditions allow, and in and around Yellowknife overnight there were no calls for service and no confirmed break and enters.

8:47 –  If you missed watching it live (I did, I’ve been on the phone with the CRA for the last hour) you still replay Ollie, Wheeler, Lekter and intern Sam on our morning show here.

A big thank you to day’s show sponsors: Megan Holsapple, Table Tennis North and Hockey NWT, Jessica Cox, the Pontooners, and the Cash family.

7:54 – Highway 1 currently closed from the NWT-Alberta border to kilometre 84. Definitely check the NWT Highway Conditions map before going anywhere as the highway has been closing regularly due to wildfires in the South Slave.



7:28 – From Hannah Paulson: Indigenous leaders are worried for people “falling through the cracks” in an evacuation that they say took place without their involvement.

6:35 – Monfwi MLA Jane Weyallon Armstrong wants to change territorial legislation so Indigenous governments must be consulted during emergencies.

6:25 – Good morning from Calgary! To start us off this morning is a new story from Emily about how Edmonton’s Pakistani community is at the heart of a food drive providing hundreds of meals to NWT evacuees each day.