The Hay River fire near a highway in an undated photo. Photo: Town of Hay River
The area burned by wildfires across the Northwest Territories this year has now surpassed that of the infamous summer of 2014.
A decade ago, 385 wildfires burned roughly 3.4 million hectares of land, making it the territory’s worst wildfire season on record.
The NWT government said it spent $56.1 million (in 2014 dollars, equivalent to about $70 million today) fighting fires in 2014. That year, the community of Kakisa was evacuated. Until they had to endure 2023, Yellowknife residents called 2014 the “summer of smoke.”
This year, according to NWT Fire, 280 fires have so far burned more than 3.5 million hectares.
A dozen NWT communities have had to evacuate due to wildfire threats this year, with nearly 70 percent of the territory’s population affected. In the case of Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation, each has had to evacuate twice this summer.
Fire damage to several communities has been unprecedented. To date that includes: